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The Value of Public Records to You and Your Investigation

by NW3C Staff  -   February 3, 2014


In 2013, NW3C processed more than 10,000 public records searches as a result of requests coming from our local, state, tribal and territory member agencies. This service we provide has time after time proven to be a great benefit to a repeat group of satisfied members.

What are Public Records and How are they Valuable?
Just what are public records and how might they aid you in your investigation? Public records are documents with information that is not considered confidential. This information is nothing more than data; which can also be considered raw information and should never be fully relied upon as a sole source, especially since the information is not validated. Some of the information available to requestors includes addresses, phone numbers, personal names including aliases, business names, corporate officers, asset listings, just to name a few. This information may be helpful in identifying or confirming officers and other business interests, establishing property ownership, finding hidden assets, locating individuals and identifying relatives and associates. We process search requests for our members usually within 24 business hours, free of charge and we currently utilize TLO®, CLEAR® and ISO ClaimSearch®. We can perform searches on individuals and businesses that are related to white collar crime violations, cyber crimes, terrorism or exploitation of children.

Associations—the Visual Picture
The databases we use aid in establishing links between people, places and things.  The value of link analysis is that it visually depicts the known and suspected relationships between entities. This is especially helpful if your investigation involves multiple people and business names. The requestor can receive a chart as a snapshot to represent associations in their case.  The charts are created using IBM® i2® Analyst’s Notebook®. 

Submitting Your Request
As a reminder, all search requests must have a nexus to a white collar crime violation. When completing the request form, you will be asked to specify the violation type. Be specific as to the fraud type; i.e., do not simply type fraud as the violation type. NW3C members can submit public database search requests via the NW3C website. The search results can be emailed to the requestors and are password protected. If you have a request with more than 27 subjects (people and businesses), please call (800) 221-4424, ext. 3520. Call with any questions or send an email to intel@nw3c.org.

The endorsements below give a positive account of the ways in which NW3C’s investigative support services helps to identify and locate targets and bring cases to successful conclusions.

Special Agent Chad Enstminger with the Office of the Kansas Securities Commissioner recently shared with us this comment:
“The information is of great benefit in helping identify and locate the target as well as providing possible information about their assets.  These searches have even helped us locate some victims that we had minimal information on.  The ability to obtain this information from one source, and the quick turn-around time of 24 [business] hours or less, allows us to move much more quickly in our investigations.”

Investigator Mike Juhas from the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office in Louisiana stated: 
“Y’all have been a tremendous help for my office to contact people who have written worthless checks. People now days move so often it is hard to locate them. With the help of NW3C, I have had great success getting a subpoena served to defendants or contacting people when their case has been turned over to us. Thanks again and keep up the good work!”

Examples of Charts Created Using i2®

A search request for three individuals who happen to be family members, where the requestor wants to know what businesses each of them are associated with and how.
There is a single subject with a suspicion of being related to several businesses. Through public records we found those businesses and the other individuals associated with those businesses. The main target is highlighted.
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