With so much money to follow, business is booming for this financial fraud investigator
Kenneth Springer specializes in digging up the dirt that money manager wants to stay buried.
As the memory of Bernie Madoff's schemes subsided, Springer said some are once again letting their guard down
Wall Street has been in the dumps for several years, with banks stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of sacking staff. One of the few people in the field enjoying boom times is Kenneth Springer, a private eye who specializes in uncovering the dirt that money managers would rather keep buried. Business has doubled in the past three years.
“So long as there’s greed and people willing to turn a blind eye, I’m busy,” said Springer, a certified fraud examiner and former FBI special agent who since 1991 has run Corporate Resolutions Inc.
Springer oversees a team of 30 who check out money managers vying for cash for clients, including the New York State Common Retirement Fund, which confirmed hiring Corporate Resolutions last year. Background checks cost around $7,500 each, and Springer’s firm generates $6 million in annual revenue.
Business has been strong ever since the Bernie Madoff scam broke in late 2008 and awakened the world to the dangers of inadequately vetted money managers. But with that disaster fading into history and the stock market rallying steadily over the past several years, Springer said banks and wealthy families are once again letting their guard down and failing to fully investigate the people they’re entrusting with millions of dollars.
Springer’s staff specializes in scouring databases and files in state and county courthouses across the nation to find intelligence. Facebook pages are often particularly revealing, as are in-person interviews with people who know the subject being investigated. In one case, his firm was hired by a bank that was asked to approve a $200 million line of credit for a New York University student who said he was descended from Turkish royalty and had raised $7 million for a hedge fund. Springer’s firm found that the claims were false and urged the client to steer clear. The student later pleaded guilty to federal bank-fraud charges.
After nearly 40 years of uncovering people’s secrets, Springer is looking toward the next phase of his career. Among other opportunities, he’s deciding whether to join the advisory board of an insurance startup that would write policies protecting customers against the kind of fraud Springer detects. He’s intrigued but wary.
“I need to do background checks on the guys I’d be working with,” he said.