Introduction: Today’s article is not a question and answer session. Instead, we talk about the recent scandal surrounding the Taiwanese President Chen Shui-Bian and how our office deals with cases regarding fraud and theft of monies.
Facts: President Chen Shui-Bian is accused of embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars. It is unknown specifically how much he has taken. What is more worrisome is that it is believed that he has already transferred most if not all of the money to third parties. The country is in a state of confusion. Even if President Chen is successfully locked up and proven that he stole money will any of the monies be returned?
Answer: Our office is very successful in obtaining good results for clients that have been defrauded. Many people, including other attorneys, have had me lecture on how and why we have been able to succeed against defendants that have had well-heeled attorneys.
The answer is simple. The following steps we use are not difficult in concept. In fact, so many people are surprised how successful our firm can be using such simple actions. However, follow the steps I state and your attorney should be able to easily win your case.
Step #1: Organize your documentation. We are very lucky that our office is in a position to be selective about cases that we represent. It is my belief however, that many cases are rejected not because they are not meritorious. It is because the people that come to us have not organized their case so that our office can give a proper analysis for overall probability of success.
Step #2: Do a background check. Recently, I was approached by a good friend who is a reporter dealing with the case of Chen Shui-Bian. She told me that the Taiwanese government is having a difficult time because they believe that much of the money taken has gone to Chen’s child, who lives in the United States. Upon doing research at my office I noticed that Chen’s son’s last name pulls up about 10 different homes within California alone. I am sure that pulling other family members and friends of Chen Shui-Bian will result in similar circumstances.
Usually, when a person steals money they do not keep it under their name. However, they also keep their money close, meaning they put into relatives’ names or close friends. In this case, it is my belief that throughout the United States President Chen has used his family and close friends to hide assets that belong to the people of Taiwan.
Similarly, anyone that is attempting to get back money from a person that has defrauded should use a background check so that they can find out if there is a possibility that money taken could possibly be with those near him. As such, I recommend anyone in a position where they have been defrauded to contact an attorney to find out the assets of family members.
Step #3: Do not focus your litigation against the fraudulent person solely, but instead affect those he cares about.
I find that the more money someone has taken the more they are willing to sit it jail to allow their family members and close friends to enjoy it. However, no one desires to hurt those they care about. As such, I always recommend that if there is a hint that any stolen money has gone to third parties that you bring them into the lawsuit. If you later find that indeed they have not taken any money, you are well within your right to dismiss them.
Why would one want to do this? It is because no pressure is greater than family members and close friends. What is worse, having a person you do not care about sue you or having a person you do not care about sue you and everyone around you (ex. Your daughter in college, your grandmother in another state) so that everyone is affected.
Step #4: Use a Lis Pendens to lock up property. A lis pendens is a legal remedy that allows one to lock up property if it is the subject of dispute. What a lis pendens does is notify the entire world that if they intend to purchase property then they will buy subject to a pending dispute. The result would be that the property owner will not only be able to sell the property, they will also not be able to obtain any loans on it as well.
Step #5: Use an injunction to freeze other assets. An injunction is a request to the judge to prevent the defendant from doing something. In this case, one would ask the judge to freeze all assets of the defendant and those around him so that they can no longer embezzle money. If a defendant and those close to him can no longer have access to ready money, it will encourage the defendants to settle much quicker with the plaintiff.
Step #6: Look for the right type of attorney. People that are not willing to pay their attorneys for working these types of cases can expect never to get back any money. Fraud cases are not like car accidents. Unlike personal injury attorneys that have 1000’s cases at a time, attorneys that work on cases like this only take on 50-100. What that means is if you want an attorney to take on the case on a contingency you can fully expect to obtain little or nothing back.
Step #7: Do not pity your enemy. Many people that come into our office suddenly have a crisis in that they feel we are too aggressive with the defendant. Many of you know our office to be the ones that sued a well-known actor/singer for defrauding our client of monies she invested in a beauty parlor. In our initial investigation we found that the singer not only defrauded our client’s money but his mother and father in law were also involved in the embezzling as well. Prior to filing the case, I made sure to tell my client that she must not feel sorry for the defendant. Fortunately, for us, the plaintiff felt the same way. In the middle of the litigation, instead of proving that the defendant did not nothing wrong, the defendant’s attorney said that our office was abusing our authority because the father in law was in his 80’s. Obviously, age is a poor excuse for doing something wrong. However, if the plaintiff is not strong in their belief of injury, they may cave in, and decide to drop the lawsuit.
Step #8: Do not be afraid to go to trial. So many attorneys have never gone to trial. Some studies show that 97% of cases settle. Most cases settle because attorneys are too scared to put their case before a jury. Indeed, if the case has progressed to a point where trial is imminent and if the defendant is so stupid that they believe they can win, try the case. If your case is meritorious juries in the United States do not look highly on those that steal from innocent people.
Conclusion: It is my hope that those that read this article can use this in instructing their attorney on how to run litigation. It is unfortunate that so many attorneys refuse to be aggressive. Best of luck to those facing this issue.