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INDEMNITOR’S $13.54 CHECK LEADS TO $23,500 JUDGMENT RECOVERY

How did a check for $13.54 help recover a $283,500 judgment? The district court judge awarded the judgment at a bench trial against a small, now defunct construction company and the indemnitor, the sole owner. The insurance company had nothing but cancelled checks to their attorney to show for their collection efforts on their relatively small judgment.

As is the standard procedure for Financial Forensic Services, LLC (FFS), whether called in to find assets to satisfy a judgment for a few hundred thousand dollars or several million, the company’s attorney issued a subpoena to the local bank for copies of the front and back of all debit instruments and all credits for the last 24 months (sometimes for a longer period depending on the circumstances). While creating a spreadsheet as part of the review of the subpoenaed production documents, FFS’s analyst noted a cancelled check for $13.54 payable to a Public Service Company, three states away. The payment was for rural electrical services.

This seemed rather unusual. When was the last time you paid only $13.54 for electrical service? Further research revealed that the address was a rural route with no street address. FFS research staff contacted the post office for that address’ county seat and learned that the location was at the intersection of two county roads. A call to the tax assessor’s office gave us the legal description and the name of the taxpayer and his billing address. The next call was to the county clerk and recorder’s office, where we ordered a copy of the deed for the property. We confirmed that the property consisted of a Section of land (640 acres), but there was not a home at this address – only a barn.

We had learned from the rural route postman that this property had cattle and oil wells on it. Next we called the county livestock auction barn, where we obtained the name and phone number of the area Brand Inspector, who inspects all the livestock bought and sold in the county to help control cattle and horse rustling. We confirmed that the herd of Black Angus cattle on the property belonged to our judgment debtor.

Research with the state oil and gas commission provided us with the name and address of the oil company and their production records for our debtor’s property. A subpoena to the producer resulted in copies of all of the checks they had paid our judgment debtor.

From our research with the tax attorney and the clerk and recorder’s office, we documented that our judgment debtor’s father had purchased this section of land after being discharged from the military after World War II, and it was free and clear of any debt. The man’s wife had preceded him in death so our debtor, his only heir, had inherited the property upon his death.

The $13.54 check paid the bill for the single light bulb hanging in the old barn where our debtor’s retired ag teacher from high school kept the feed for the herd of registered cattle he cared for at the debtor’s request.

We contacted the debtor’s attorney and asked if his client wanted to pay his judgment with oil and gas money, the sale of livestock, or real estate, or if we should ask the court to order the liquidation of these assets to satisfy our client’s judgment.

The debtor immediately provided the full payment of $283,500.

No check is too small, even $13.54. No detail is so insignificant that it should be overlooked in the forensic research t satisfy a client’s judgment.

Copyright all rights reserved. Financial Forensic Services, LLC 2020 Brief quotation with attribution permitted. 

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Testimonial

“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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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 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.”

“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.”

” 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.”

“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.”