February 2018
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In March, Trace Investigations will be attending a regional meeting of the Council of International Investigators in Arlington, Virginia. The CII meeting and seminar is being held prior to the annual Hit the Hill legislative advocacy gathering in Washington, D.C., hosted by the National Council of Investigation and Security Services.

We are grateful to have the opportunity to provide you this valuable information. We take special care to ensure the information we provide you in "Tracings" is the latest and most current information available.
In this edition, we address asset investigations with a case study, and the growth of digital currencies.
The goal of this e-newsletter is to provide you with critical information that will help you prevail in your business affairs wherever fact finding is an essential component. We will share what we have learned in our 30+ years as professional investigators and intelligence analysts.

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The Trace Team

art1Hiding in Plain Sight: A Case Study
Not all asset investigations are the same, although they often start at the same place for an investigator: Does the subject of the investigation own any real estate? Property holdings are usually easy to determine if you know where the subject resides presently and has resided in years past. Often times, we discover the subject owns his principal residence but nothing else, and that property may be heavily mortgaged. This is not an unusual scenario when trying to determine assets beyond an insurance policy's limits in an accident investigation, for example. However, we always look closely at the recorded filings on that residence, especially if there are other buildings in addition to the home.

One recent case prompted further investigation when we saw that a large, modern barn set at the rear of a subject's three acres in the country. Although the accident had occurred in Indiana, the subject resided in Illinois, not far from the Indiana border. Our initial investigation showed that his property was not a farm and he wasn't a commercial truck driver or owner who might store a large semi-tractor and trailer in such a building. Our subject was the driver who caused the accident; he was in his 30s and was an executive at a manufacturing facility. His wife was also in her 30s, and our social media investigation revealed she sold beauty products from her home. We wanted to know what was in that barn, which according to tax records had been built after he and his wife bought the property three years earlier.

We had already conducted a . ..Read More

art2 Assets in the Sky: The growth of digital currency
As the recent trending news stories have shown, more investors are converting liquid assets into digital currency. Tech and financial magazines have been writing about bitcoin, the best known of the cryptocurrencies, for several years. There is now a smartphone application for buying and selling digital currencies, Coinbase, which claims to "...make it easy to securely buy, use, and store digital currency." Worldwide there are more than 38,000 merchants (including Overstock.com) that accept digital currencies such as bitcoin, ethereum and litecoin through Coinbase on both web and mobile devices.

There is no central entity such as a bank or government that controls bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. An international group of volunteers maintains a network of computers operating specialized software. The "currency" is stored in a ledger called the blockchain. The February 1st issue of Wired Magazine features recommended reading on the topic, " The Wired Guide to Bitcoin."

Digital currency has moved beyond when it was just the favored "coin" of those who deal in illegal products and services on the dark web, such as controlled substances and pilfered Social Security numbers and other personal identifiers. Private investigators are now attending seminars and webinars on digital currencies as part of their continuing education, including the team at Trace Investigations. It is just a matter of time before we discover that targets of investigation will be masking their assets, liquid and otherwise, as "assets in the sky" -- or the cloud, if you prefer -- digital currencies stored on web "banks" around the globe. It's probably already happening.

When you need a thorough asset investigation, contact the professionals at Trace Investigations at 800-310-8857.