Company Uses Public Records to Uncover Hidden Assets
CONROE- Rob Kimmons’ company follows clues in public records like a tracker follows bent twigs and footprints. Kimmons runs Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc.; a Houston-based company that checks state and county records for assets of companies and individuals who claim to be broke.
The information can prove useful to lenders, creditors and attorneys who are either reviewing a potential loan, default or divorce case, Kimmons said.
The company’s case load in its first year of business has been varied, he said.
For example, a politician wanted to see what an opponent could uncover about him, and he hired the company to conduct an investigation. A women involved in a divorce case found out in Kimmons’ report that her husband had eighteen different corporations. She had known of only three of them.
Kimmons’ most dramatic story was of a businessman about to default on a mammoth loan. One glance at Kimmons Investigative Services report the lender showed him, and he whipped out the checkbook from another lender and wrote a check on the balance of the loan on the spot.
Houston cases bring Kimmons to Montgomery County about once a week, he said, declining to name his clients here because they prefer to remain anonymous.
Courthouse records here are among the more than 355 sources of public information the company uses to produce a profile. Profiles include both civil and criminal cases, real property transactions, Uniform Commercial Code filings, tax liens, corporate status listings, assumed names and the relationships between those data.
The information is out there for anyone, Kimmons said, but his company has made understanding and organizing this information its business.
Many of the sources are on microfilm in Kimmons’ office, where the company has an estimated $70,000 in research materials at its fingertips. The staff heads to other sources to update the information, as there is a delay between an item being put on the record and the record being out on reels, he said.
Not all clients want a full scale investigation, Kimmons said. The company offers two reports, a preliminary one to be used for screening, and a comprehensive, multi-county one. The company charges $35 an hour. A full report can take a week or two to complete.
Kimmons, a former police officer, had started his own private investigating firm three and a half years ago. His firm, AAR Investigations, occasionally used the public records monitoring services of a now defunct company, much like the currently operating Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc.
When the other company went under, Kimmons said, “I thought it was a great service. I decided to get it going.”
To do so, he purchased some of the records of the other company and hired one of its former employees.
“Business is building every month,” he said. The company, which Kimmons said has turned a profit since the month after it started, has completed 500 reports to date.
“Seventy percent of the time we find assets that the (client) company wasn’t aware of,” he said, adding “There are times a person really is bankrupt.”
Kimmons said plans for the company include opening offices in Austin, where a lot of state records are, and Dallas, where about one third of the cases are.
By Cynthia Lescallete, Business Editor