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Skip Tracing A Fly-By-Night Company: Getting Paid 201

Internet Fingerprints

Most of the time, getting paid 101 is everything you need to know about getting paid from a delinquent client. But sometimes, you get left on the hook by a fly-by-night company. One day … poof! … they’re gone.

Email bounces, the phone is cut off, the website has been sold, and the office is dark. It’s all gone. These are not businesses that are struggling to make ends meet. These are professional cons.

Occasionally they even operate the business for a few years, and then one day they simply disappear. The funny thing is, they usually pop up every couple years with a new cash cow.

How To Find A Fly By Night Company

The easiest way to find someone like this is to hire a professional skip tracer.

Skip Tracers charge anywhere between $100 and $500. A good one can find somebody hunkered down in a bomb shelter on the dark side of the moon in about an hour. Of course, the more information you can give them to kick things off, the better.

They use online databases, directories and good phone work to track people down. They also use their connections in different cities to find people. They’re a great option because they have all the right access and they know all the right tricks.

The best place to find a good skip tracer is through an accountant, a lawyer, or a financial consultancy firm.

Do-It-Yourself Skip Tracing

Sometimes it’s not too hard to find these people. And even if you do hire a skip tracer, doing a good preliminary search yourself is going to bring in more information, which makes it easier for them to get the job done.

The Tools For Tracing A Skipper

Here’s what you need:

  1. Paperwork. Gather up every document, business card, and note you have on this company. And print out any email correspondence.
  2. Google. Gotta love the internet!
  3. A phone. When it comes right down to it, this is your endgame weapon. The phone is what you use to verify all the information you’ve gathered. And it’s what gets you that last piece of information you need through someone who knows so-and-so who knows your disappearing magician.

Setting Up Your Search

Take all your paperwork and start making a list of everything you’re going to search on Google for. Here are the things you need to extract from all your paperwork.

  • The company name, address, and contact info
  • Names and contact info of managers, directors and owners of the company
  • Names and contact info of anybody you met through these people from this company. Maybe they know something or someone who does
  • Names and contact info of suppliers, clients, and B2B connections of the company. These people are possible allies in your search and they might know something
  • Brand names, trademarks, and product or service names that the company owned

Start Your Search

Fire up your computer and point your web browser to Google and start searching everything on your list. Make a new list as you go of all the information you find.

You’re looking for other companies these people have been involved with or dba information (where the company was “doing business as” another name).

You’re looking for groups or associations they’re part of. And where they generally do business. And press releases or info about deals they put together with other companies. Basically, you’re looking for everything you can find out about the people in this company and the trail they’ve left.

Once you’ve got names, and general locations, you can start looking up phone numbers and addresses via any number of online whitepages. Try and use a phone directory that’s local to whatever area they live in rather than a national directory. But check those too.

Making Contact

If all has gone well, your skip tracing effort has produced a short list of home phone numbers and maybe addresses for some of the key people that owned the company.

Phone them up and tell them you need to get paid. Don’t lose your cool. Be professional. Set a very short time-line like one week and keep calling them every couple days to follow up. Email or fax them a new invoice. Then wait a couple days and send them a promissory note to sign.

The key is to keep the pressure on and everything moving towards you getting paid.

Maybe they don’t have the money, or they’ll give you some story about bankruptcy or whatever. Maybe they’ll swear at you and slam down the phone. Then all you can do is take legal action. If these people are professional ghosts then a collections agency will have a tough time keeping on their trail.

So your best bet is probably to take them to court.

Get a good lawyer who can uncover their assets, and you might even get paid.

Denouement
 

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9 Comments

  1. great article, i’ve never even heard of skip tracers. but i hope i never have to use the advice of this post!

  2. Danielle,

    Skip tracers are generally very private (they know how dangerous information can be).

  3. I find it very difficult to comprehend as to how easily people get ripped off by these fly by night operators. These operators are real smooth talkers and will make you believe in things like your money will double every month. I personally know some people who have suffered at the hands of these ruthless operators.

    Oh please please get to know these people well first, challenge them about their credibility, do whatever but please make sure you are dealing with a legitimate company and thats not difficult.

    I get a call from a client sometimes who asks if I have heard of XYZ

  4. Company, I do some research and come up with a big NO. So folks please do your homework. I get overseas calls from such operators who are ready to finance me on a particular investment for 3 months interest free all I need to send them is 20%….lol. (sorry this comment got broken up)

    Take care and cheers.

  5. Robin,

    Those here-today, gone-tomorrow cons are definitely around. For the most part they prey on people’s weaknesses. I’ve heard of very smart people being conned because the smooth talker appealed to their greed with an unbelievable deal.

    But the people I’m talking about here are really smooth. They hang around and run a business for a couple years. They take advantage of both investors and suppliers. Once they’ve built up the business using outside investment and supplier credit to a large enough cash flow, they skip out on all the bills, liquidate all the assets and disappear.

    Like I said, they usually do this every few years and you can frequently find a pattern of their exploits with some creative Googling.

  6. [...] There are sales that are not worth getting because the profit is too small and the task of even getting paid is too large. You’ll have to put up with competitors with sub-standard offerings that get the [...]

  7. My name is Frank M. Ahearn and I am a skip tracer, a skip tracer is someone who finds people, my clients range from private investigators, lawyers to finance companies. Typically, the people I search for have done something to someone like cheated them out of money, cheated with a mate or some other type misdeed.

    A skip tracer is usually the last line of defense; we come in when the client has exhausted all means and cannot locate a subject. A good skip tracer picks up the phone, calls family, friends and neighbors for leads to the subjects whereabouts.

    The face of skip tracing has changed with the new law passed it prohibits people from calling telephone companies and creating a subterfuge for information. The phone companies have always been a well of information for skip tracers – those days are over.

    Interestingly enough, the internet is a great place to locate information and I’m not talking about the database companies that sell regurgitated information for $9.99. Those databases are good for a starting point in your investigation but be cautious the information provided has never been checked or confirmed – your buying a piece of a persons history with no real proof of what is true or untrue, buyer beware.

    The question now is how one finds all the good information online. The answer is in how you search for your subject, simply putting their name in Google or Yahoo does not give you what you need. They key is the sites you hit and how you manipulate the subjects name. For example, Zabasearch is an excellent web site for information, you can put a person’s name, search it by city, state or national. You can even search it by year of birth if you have or only last name with a first initial. What is good about Zabasearch besides being free is you can pick up a subjects month and year of birth, sometime a phone or cell number is located.

    The next step is after you located some information about your subject from Zabasearch and it appears credible, take some time and hit Superpages, run the addresses you located in the reverse listing, run the name in the Whitepages area and if you pick up a phone number run that through the reverse listings as well. Through Superpages, you may pick up a spouses name or a parent’s address the subject may have resides at some point. Take the names you located and go back to Zabasearch and run the names, you will be surprised at what you find.

    The inability to pretext phone companies have certainly put a damper in the skip tracing and investigative world, however, people can still be located with out pretext. It’s not easy nor is it quick, there is a lot of chipping away at the stone. From my perspective as a skip tracer, I have to become more resourceful and figure out where people have left information behind that I can utilize in my skip trace.

    Look at Myspace, people load up information beyond belief. They put up birth dates, occupation, some list high schools, colleges, fraternity, even better some list, cities, states, family member’s names and email addresses, not to mention photos. One skip trace I worked where an investigator was doing a disability case on a subject. By manipulating the subjects name I located his Myspace account, the subject had videos of himself ridging dirt bikes in an amateur competition. Remarkably enough, the subject listed his next motocross event on his Myspace account; the investigator was there to video tape.

    Another skip trace for a client was to assist in locating employment or business entities on a subject. My client had an email address on the subject, what I did was drop everything after the ampersand so the email became joebadguy77. Where ever the subject posted something online be it a Blog an Op-ed site or signed a web sites guest book I’m gonna get a hit. With this particular case, the subject was listed in Zoominfo, busted as we say in the business.

    As time goes on, the laws will change and restrict more, and more how information is obtained, its important investigators and skip tracer reinvent the process of locating people and assets. We at AhearnSearch have drastically overhauled our skip tracing methods; there was a time we were paid for information, now we are paid for the process of searching for information.

    I truly believe in time that pretext itself will be outlawed which will affect several industries, like banking, financial, investigative and including the legal industry of locating witnesses. My suggestion to all the Investigators, Repoman, Collectors, Lawyers and suspecting spouses either perfect your internet search skills or utilize a company like AhearnSearch for your skip tracing needs.

    Frank M. Ahearn & Eileen C. Horan

  8. Wow Frank,

    That’s a ton of great information! I hope it helps a few people out, and I wish you and your company great success in the skip tracing business. It’s definitely easier to hire a pro when you need to get the job done.

  9. [...] run your business in a way that helps (a lot) to make sure you get paid by delinquent clients. In Getting Paid 201 I talked about skip-tracing; or tracking down those fly-by-nighters that skip out on paying [...]


 

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