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Joe Dickerson article feature in The Denver Business Journal

‘Financial detective’ on the lookout for hidden assets
by Amy Bryer

FFS_denver_business_journal_logoJoe Dickerson is a detective of sorts. He’s not a gun-toting detective who gets into fistfights and always gets the villain and the girl. He’s a financial detective who can find where people hide money, assets and anything else of value.

Against someone who committed fraud or another white-collar crime. Frequently the convicted person hid assets to avoid paying the victim, and it’s Dickerson’s job to find the money. Dickerson goes beyond just a subpoena of a bank records. Assets can be hidden in shell corporations, homes, boats, cars, planes, stocks, even construction equipment. Often, the assets are concealed under the names of family members or colleagues and sometimes those people aren’t even aware their names are being used.

In one case, Dickerson found a check written to an out-of-state power company that turned up thousands of acres of farm and ranch land owned by the convicted person, but not listed under his name. The search doesn’t stop with the subpoena of financial records. Even analyzing a phone bill can reveal calls to a bank in the Bahamas, he said. Dickerson will even interview ex-spouses and former secretaries to find leads to assets that are hard to locate on paper.
 
According to a study by Dickerson Financial, less than 3 percent of restitution orders in criminal cases are fully recovered. Dickerson is trying to change those odds. “Getting the verdict is only half the battle,” he said.

The majority of criminal cases are turned into civil cases that allows the victim to use subpoena power to obtain the personal financial information on the convicted criminal. In white-collar crime, the victim is torn by competing interests, Denver Chief Deputy District Attorney Bill Lucero said. “The victim would like to see the person punished and put in jail, but what they need more than anything else is to get their money back,” Lucero said. “If youcan’t prove they have the ability to pay, you can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip.”

The DA’s office often cuts deals for probation just so the victim will recover his or her cash. Lucero describes Dickerson as a junk-yard dog who sniffs out people’s money.

A district attorney is not allowed to counsel victims in recovering cash, but Dickerson is not hamstrung by the same rules, Lucero said. “He can use techniques that are not allowed by us — they’re not illegal, just not allowed,” he said. “Government has to play by a different set of rules.”

Lucero worked with Dickerson during the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and the early 1990s when several land developers swindled banks out of millions of dollars with phony letters of credit. At the time, Lucero was employed by the U.S. District Attorney’s Office. Dickerson located assets for the head of a now-defunct real estate company who declared bankruptcy during the savings-and-loan debacle of the ’80s. The financial detective uncovered the assets 10 years after the deals were done, Lucero said. “All I know is I’d hate to have [Dickerson] on my tail,” Lucero said.

Dickerson, who started his career in the 1960s as a detective for the Houston Police Department, helped a bank in Fort Collins recover $1.3 million in bad bank loans in the same case. After 14 months, Dickerson found 71 different corporate entities where the money was hidden, said Larry E. Scott, a retired banker. Dickerson also located money and assets in a house in Scottsdale, Ariz., a $250,000 mutual fund in Kansas City and other property held in a trust that no one recognized as his own. Although Scott said he never thought his bank would see the money again, Dickerson managed to find it all.
 
The justice system believes justice is served when the verdict comes in and convicts the wrong-doers, but Dickerson disagrees with that philosophy.”Justice is served when the victim gets their money back into their bank account and they are made to feel whole again,” he said.

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Testimonial

“Joe spends the time to understand the problem from the client’s perspective and from the legal perspective. He is intelligent, tenacious, willing to work as hard as it takes, thorough, well-informed, and just awfully good at what he does.”

Thomas E. Root, 
Attorney

2014-11-11T18:20:05+00:00

Thomas E. Root, 
Attorney

“Joe spends the time to understand the problem from the client’s perspective and from the legal perspective. He is intelligent, tenacious, willing to work as hard as it takes, thorough, well-informed, and just awfully good at what he does.”

“As an environmental law firm, we use Joe Dickerson to locate prior business owners and do corporate genealogies. He is persistent, that’s the key to a good investigator, and he has a knack for understanding how people move money and do business. That tells him what rocks to look under. Joe is vastly superior to other investigators in two ways: he lets you know what’s going on and he’s honest with you, because he tells you if there’s really anything there worth pursuing. He is unusually thorough and creative finding people. Joe has earned his fee every time.” “If the information is to be found, then I believe that they will find it. Their service enabled me to do a much better job for my client.”

Tim Gabelhouse
, Attorney at Law

2014-11-11T18:20:41+00:00

Tim Gabelhouse
, Attorney at Law

“As an environmental law firm, we use Joe Dickerson to locate prior business owners and do corporate genealogies. He is persistent, that’s the key to a good investigator, and he has a knack for understanding how people move money and do business. That tells him what rocks to look under. Joe is vastly superior to other investigators in two ways: he lets you know what’s going on and he’s honest with you, because he tells you if there’s really anything there worth pursuing. He is unusually thorough and creative finding people. Joe has earned his fee every time.” “If the information is to be found, then I believe that they will find it. Their service enabled me to do a much better job for my client.”

“Joe Dickerson is the industry standard. You can measure the rest by what he does, and I say that without equivocation. Joe has incredible insight into the dark world of fraud. He understands the devious ways in which people perpetrate white-collar crime.”

Jan Schlichtman
, Attorney at Law

2014-11-11T18:20:55+00:00

Jan Schlichtman
, Attorney at Law

“Joe Dickerson is the industry standard. You can measure the rest by what he does, and I say that without equivocation. Joe has incredible insight into the dark world of fraud. He understands the devious ways in which people perpetrate white-collar crime.”

“When I was general counsel for First Interstate Bank, I used Joe Dickerson for locating assets, investigating behavior and asset discovery. He did excellent work and always got the information I needed without compromising the bank in any way. He’s more thorough and kept in better touch with me than other investigators. I’d give him a grade of 96 or 97 out of 100.”

Frank Brainerd, Retired
Banker/Attorney

2014-11-11T18:20:20+00:00

Frank Brainerd, Retired
Banker/Attorney

“When I was general counsel for First Interstate Bank, I used Joe Dickerson for locating assets, investigating behavior and asset discovery. He did excellent work and always got the information I needed without compromising the bank in any way. He’s more thorough and kept in better touch with me than other investigators. I’d give him a grade of 96 or 97 out of 100.”

“They went overboard in providing excellent service. I was very pleased with what they provided for me as their end product. Financial Forensic Services really understands how a case needs to be put together in order to be presented to a jury. Their PowerPoint presentation tied everything together. It was thorough, it was concise, and it got the job done.”

Jim Thomas
, Prosecuting Attorney

2014-11-11T18:21:32+00:00

Jim Thomas
, Prosecuting Attorney

“They went overboard in providing excellent service. I was very pleased with what they provided for me as their end product. Financial Forensic Services really understands how a case needs to be put together in order to be presented to a jury. Their PowerPoint presentation tied everything together. It was thorough, it was concise, and it got the job done.”

“Joe is the most competent investigator I’ve ever found. He has rare ability to find hidden assets. Others claim it, Joe has it. He understands the Rules of Evidence, he knows how to talk to people to develop a fact pattern, and he has a sixth sense for fraud. Joe has unquestioned integrity and delivers value for his services.”

Andrew Quiat
, Attorney

2014-11-11T18:12:51+00:00

Andrew Quiat
, Attorney

“Joe is the most competent investigator I’ve ever found. He has rare ability to find hidden assets. Others claim it, Joe has it. He understands the Rules of Evidence, he knows how to talk to people to develop a fact pattern, and he has a sixth sense for fraud. Joe has unquestioned integrity and delivers value for his services.”

“Financial Forensic Services did an excellent job in the way they executed my case. They were very straightforward. They stated what they could do for us and they did it. And, from a personal standpoint, they are excellent. Both my wife and I felt very comfortable working with them.”

Michael Whalen, 
Businessman

2014-11-11T18:21:13+00:00

Michael Whalen, 
Businessman

“Financial Forensic Services did an excellent job in the way they executed my case. They were very straightforward. They stated what they could do for us and they did it. And, from a personal standpoint, they are excellent. Both my wife and I felt very comfortable working with them.”

” I was prepared to dismiss a federal case involving millions of dollars against a local individual who claimed to have no substantial assets. After your staff hit the records and delved into the transactions behind the transactions, you discovered the individual to actually be worth a few million dollars. We continued the case to conclusion. We were also very happy with the financial background examinations you conducted of the former directors of two failed national banks. The heart of any civil case is whether there is a pot at the end of the lawsuit. You were our lucky leprechaun in finding such pots.”

R. Michael Sentel
, Former Section Chief Legal Division, FDIC

2014-11-11T18:13:08+00:00

R. Michael Sentel
, Former Section Chief Legal Division, FDIC

” I was prepared to dismiss a federal case involving millions of dollars against a local individual who claimed to have no substantial assets. After your staff hit the records and delved into the transactions behind the transactions, you discovered the individual to actually be worth a few million dollars. We continued the case to conclusion. We were also very happy with the financial background examinations you conducted of the former directors of two failed national banks. The heart of any civil case is whether there is a pot at the end of the lawsuit. You were our lucky leprechaun in finding such pots.”