At ASG Investigations, we handle a wide variety of cases for a highly diversified client base. To accomplish this, we have specialized divisions within our agency designed and staffed to serve the specific, unique needs of each client, including:
- Legal Services – helping attorneys and represented clients obtain information and evidence to support cases.
- Corporate Services – helping companies mitigate risks and damages.
- Private Client Services – helping families and individuals find the truth and gain peace of mind.
Of course, the best way to illustrate how we can help you is to provide a sampling of our cases…
Case 1: Legal Services
For litigators, what you don’t know can hurt you, especially if you could have known the truth ahead of time.
A well-established attorney, who was experienced in successfully litigating civil matters for large and mid-sized corporate clients, was defending a matter in federal court. After meeting with her client and thoroughly investigating the matter, it appeared that her client’s successful defense was achievable, largely through the observations of an employee. The attorney had interviewed the employee and that person’s supervisor, and it appeared that everyone at the client company believed this employee’s testimony would be the magic bullet that would refute the plaintiff’s assertions and deliver a quick dismissal.
As part of the attorney’s preparations, she relied on the ASG Investigations team as her investigative experts to conduct pre-deposition research on the opposition’s witnesses. These comprehensive background checks not only gave her essential information about the character and credibility of the witnesses, they also provided her with ways to strategically direct her questioning to uncover falsehoods and force admissions that could benefit her case.
During conversations with the investigators at ASG, the attorney indicated that her case was safe largely due to a key defense witness. Though her paralegal had run some basic database background searches on this person and failed to locate any negative information, the team at ASG suggested a deeper dive. After all, if this witness was essential to her case, it would be prudent and cost effective to ensure her credibility.
Initially, the attorney was uncomfortable questioning her client’s judgement regarding this employee, who had worked for them for years without incident. However, we assured her that we do this type of background check on friendly witnesses on a regular basis. Given the stakes and the importance of this witness, the attorney elected to let ASG conduct the background check.
What ASG uncovered was that this key witness not only had serious issues surrounding her credibility and character, she was also currently in a romantic relationship with a former co-worker who was one of the key witnesses against her employer in this action! Armed with this new, hard-to-find information, our client re-interviewed this key witness and introduced new questions based on our information, which resulted in the current defense narrative crumbling.
Although her case theory was no longer viable, at least she found out before going to trial and was able to change tactics. If she hadn’t don’t done an expert background check on her witness, she would have been in for a nasty surprise in the courtroom!
Case 2: Corporate Services
Good judgement is not a replacement for good due diligence when hiring an executive
It’s human nature to almost always accept what we see as being real. This is what makes magicians so fascinating. However, when applied to business, this trait can lead to trouble.
A great example is the case of the company that needed to hire an established executive with a proven track record in their industry. The new hire was meant to lead a business unit that was badly underperforming. The board of directors had given management 18 months to right the ship or it would be closed or sold, and the management team likely replaced.
With so much on the line, management retained a reputable search firm to find qualified candidates. The search firm presented a variety of candidates, but one of them stuck out from the pack. This candidate served as the president of a successful competitor who had been sold the prior year. Though he was not personally known to our client, he presented well during some informal interviews and on a golf outing with management. Additionally, he had glowing recommendations, and there was no question that he had held his former position for several years. He also passed the basic background check that the search firm conducted.
The candidate explained that he wished he could have stayed with his prior employer, but the time was right to sell and get the best outcome for the shareholders. He was prepared to relocate for the job and the salary range, although high, was in line with expectations for someone at that level. Essentially, everyone in the client’s C-suite was excited to have an opportunity to hire a past president of a successful company and the feel-good factor was running high.
Despite all the green lights, the company’s general counsel felt the stakes were too high to make a decision without taking a closer look. Her trusted circle overwhelmingly recommended that she contact ASG to conduct an expert background check and due diligence. After ASG reviewed the “background check” and reference interviews done by the search firm, it was clear that more could be done.
ASG was quickly able to confirm that the candidate had no criminal record and no negative civil court records. He appeared to be solvent, and his former position and education were verified. As the executive background check continued, it was noted that despite his position, the candidate had never engaged in any public speaking in his industry. It was also noted that he never served in any capacity in trade associations. Although not a game changer, these were unusual findings.
The next level of the investigation was to analyze the references he provided to the search firm. This is where things got interesting. Of the references provided, three of the four had no information that could be found in their backgrounds that tied them to the industry that the candidate worked in, although they claimed to have worked with him or for him. Further, we were unable to verify that any of these references were previously employed where they had claimed to be. A deeper dive uncovered that one of these references was the candidate’s childhood friend, another was a college fraternity brother and the third was a man whom the candidate had opened a small business with.
The final step was to contact former leadership of the now closed company that the candidate lead. After some difficultly locating the right people, it was learned that the candidate was married to the daughter of the man who bankrolled the company. This gentleman effectively gave the job of president to his then son-in-law. Not only was he the real power behind this company, his other investments included the single largest customer of the candidate’s company.
In effect, the candidate was a straw man placed in that role so the owner’s daughter would maintain a good living. We also discovered that the candidate had an affair and his wife had filed for divorce. Immediately thereafter, his father-in-law sold the company and kicked him to the curb. Fellow executives from this company reported that the candidate did very little and was anything but an industry expert.
In the end, our client had a near miss in placing a grossly unqualified person at the helm during a crisis. They avoided a potentially disastrous situation thanks to ASG – an investigative agency that conducts real background checks and due diligence.
Case 3: Private Client Services
The single biggest risk of investing in a start-up is not knowing who you’re partnering with.
Almost everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, and with good reason. The time has never been better for people to start a business, and many start-ups are paying off in a big way. Often these ventures involve meeting new people or being introduced to others who have a great idea and appear to have the expertise to turn this idea into a money maker. During this “get to know you” phase, it’s almost always rainbows and unicorns. Everyone is excited and positive.
This was the case with a spouse who was less emotional and more logical about her husband’s desire to start a new company and sought help from the ASG Investigations team to get the answers they needed to make a good decision.
Our client’s husband was introduced to someone who had an intriguing idea for a business startup in a niche industry. The concept would require this new person to provide expertise that he had obtained from personal work experience. This new partner also recommended someone else with the right skills, who he felt would be crucial to the success of this venture. Our client’s husband would provide financing and business expertise. He would also be leveraging many of his personal and professional relationships to help push this new venture into the market. In short, his money and his reputation were on the line.
After talking over opportunity with his wife, it was clear to her that he was excited about the prospect of making significant profits from this start-up. She met the two would-be partners, who seemed nice and appeared to have good answers to all her questions. It was also obvious to her that if things didn’t work out, not only would she and her husband be out a fair amount of money, but her husband’s reputation could end up tainted. With that in mind, she suggested that her husband conduct some due diligence on the potential partners. So, he went online and obtained a $29.95 background check report from a website.
That report located some prior court records, but the only criminal matter was a misdemeanor and the other cases didn’t seem too significant. It did not provide any information about their work history, education or go into any detail. When she suggested that it was important to get more information about their character, given that they were essentially strangers three weeks ago, and that realistically, they knew nothing about them beyond what these men told them, her husband said he was comfortable with them having spent time together and didn’t want to pry into their personal lives. What she could tell is that he wanted to do this deal and didn’t want to pause for cautions sake.
She then decided she would get the due diligence done and show him the results. A family friend indicated that ASG was the agency to contact. We were able to get real background checks completed on both men, which resulted in meaningful findings that showed several negative predictive behaviors in their past. Some of the information uncovered included: grossly false information presented on their LinkedIn pages; embellished job descriptions; numerous things that directly contradicted statements they made to her and her husband; omitted prior employers; significant financial problems (including one who was over $20,000 in arrears in child support from another state); and a failed prior business endeavor. Finally, in the case of the misdemeanor criminal matter, we discovered a reduced charge based on a plea bargain that arose out of him assaulting two people who he claimed cheated him in a business deal. In other words, these men were not ideal business partners.
After showing the ASG report to her husband, he could not have been happier that she had the forethought to get an expert background check, instead of relying on the cheap internet report he purchased.
There are two main reasons that would-be investors don’t want to conduct real, proper due diligence background checks on their partner(s): 1) Fear of missing out (FOMO). They want to jump in on a venture while it’s hot, and 2) The idea that it’s in “poor taste” to investigate someone they plan on working with. But these lines of reasoning are the exact opposite reaction a business person should have. Verifying information, uncovering potential problems, and having all the facts, can help you make good decisions and start business ventures off on the right foot – or avoid a costly mistake.
If you need answers, put the ASG Investigations team on the case.
ASG Investigations is an experienced, reputable investigation agency which is designed and staffed to serve the specific, unique needs of each sector of our substantial and diversified client base, including law firms, corporations, business owners, investment firms and private individuals. We pride ourselves in personalized service and superior results. Call us for a free, confidential consultation at 888-677-9700.