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CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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I lent a significant amount of money to someone and I haven't

Customer Question

I lent a significant amount of money to someone and I haven't gotten it back in a few years. I know now that I was scammed. He is out of the country but I think he has some property and bank accounts in the US. Is there anyway to see if the accounts have a balance, and to place a lien on the accounts and/or properties?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 2 years ago.
I am sorry to learn of this situation. The proper way to deal with this is to sue the individual for breach of contract and fraud. Once you get a judgment (usually by default in these cases) you can then place a lien on the property, and levy on the bank accounts - but you must first get the court judgment.What state was the loan made in? and how many years ago was the default? (I am concerned about the statute of limitations issue).
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
He lived in Canada at the time. I lived in Georgia and deposited cash into his Bank of America account. The account was setup with an address in Chicago. This happened about 3 years ago.
Does he have to be in the US for me to sue him? I don't think he will come back to the states any time soon. According to his wife, they are both in India.What information would I need to try to sue him? I may have the address for his wife's family, as well as a cell phone number that worked a few months ago.
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 2 years ago.
You are getting to the outside edge of the statute of limitations, but you can still sue for breach of contract (GA has a 4 year statute for oral contracts and 6 for written - fraud is limited to 2 years from the date of discovery, so this has likely passed, but you may be able to make an argument for "delayed discovery" and claim that as well).You can sue in the US, and serve him in India. If he fails to come to the US (or at least pay an attorney to file a response) you will get a "default judgment" against him. I have prosecuted a very small number of actions against overseas defendants, it is conceptually straight forward - you simply need to serve them using the rules for service in the country where they are located - in your case India - and then file the proof of service in the state court where your action is located - Georgia). However, making sure you follow all of the rules and don't get caught up in a procedural trap gets a little more complicated, I would advise hiring a lawyer to represent you, especially since you have located assets that you hope to collect against - you aren't just chasing a paper judgment.One other thing I would discuss with counsel is whether or not Georgia or Illinois would be your most appropriate jurisdiction to prosecute this case - depending on the way your transaction was handled, Illinois may be a better jurisdiction than Georgia, but local counsel can walk you through this and help you select the appropriate venue.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for your feedback. How would he get served in India if I don't know where he is exactly?Also, I have his checking account number and routing number. Is there a legal way for me to see what his account balance is and if it's even active? I am considering hiring a private investigator to look into his property records and financial assets. Do you think that is worthwhile?
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 2 years ago.
You say that you have some information on his wife's family - you would pay for a process server/private investigator in that country to track him down - more likely than not they would be able to find him (especially given the contact information you do have - I cannot promise anything, but most individuals with familial ties can be found using those links - it may take a little searching, but a private investigator or process service will be able to find them).Work with a law firm that has some contacts in the foreign country (you will pay a little more for the legal services than you usually would for a simple breach of contract action, and if the dispute goes past the complaint/default judgment stage, you may wish to substitute a different, smaller, firm back in, but a large firm with international ties will give you a big advantage in finding overseas resources such as process servers and investigators, as well as dealing with your multi-state jurisdiction question).
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
And how about the account balances, any way I can view them to make sure I'm not wasting my time? He may have already spent the money, or closed his US accounts.
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 2 years ago.
Unfortunately, not without getting the case started. It is possible to get what are called "pre judgment writs" but this is "extraordinary relief" - it is possible to get in cases of fraud, especially if you can show "fraudulent transfer" - but you at a minimum have to have your case filed to be able to get this started, and most judges are going to want you to you to know exactly what it is you are levying on when you make the motion - not use it for a "fishing expedition" (so these motions are used when a creditor is trying to protect specific assets, for example a kitchen supply company wants to protect the deep fryer and commercial freezer in the debtor's restaurant).But speak with a local attorney and see if they think they can use this type of relief to get you any insight - they can do property searches to get information on real property that they own, and that will show liens recorded against the property, so you will get a good idea of what equity is left in it, and you can use that to get a pre-judgment attachment to secure your position while your court case is pending.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
ok, I will speak with a local attorney.
I've never sued anyone, so I have no idea what kind of cost this would be.
Do you have a ballpark idea (in thousands of dollars) what something like this would cost me?
Do attorneys charge by the hour, or do they just take a portion of the judgment?
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 2 years ago.
For this type of case, I would expect to be billed at an hourly rate - this would mean you pay for your attorney's time up front, but everything that you collect, is yours.You may be able to find an attorney willing to take your case on based on a contingency fee basis - where they advance legal services in exchange for a portion of your recovery, but be careful with these arrangements, this is not one of the traditional contingency fee cases, so you may find a case where you are only getting the legal services and still having to pay costs (which would include the costs of hiring the process server/investigator/court costs), and you would have to split any recovery that you get.On this type of case what you are really hoping for is that the plaintiff "defaults" (doesn't show up) so you get a judgment quickly and inexpensively, then you can collect against assets you can find, or alternatively, the defendant agrees to a settlement quickly - so you get paid a portion of what you are asking for (placing you in a better position than you are now, and getting you a recovery that may not be 100% but at least it is something and you don't have to wait for a long time and spend a lot of money chasing it down).Attorney's fees vary widely, but to go with a firm with international ties you are probably going to find a firm with "tiered billing" so a partner that oversees your case will bill at one rate, a senior associate that manages the actual work will bill at a lower rate, and a junior associate that does whatever drafting/research is necessary will bill at the lowest rate, as well as paralegals or clerks), but again, if you start with a large firm like this to get the ball rolling, you can substitute out to a smaller firm if the defendant actually shows up and it looks like you have to litigate the matter to help reduce your costs (get the benefit of the international ties up front, then switch to a smaller firm to take advantage of reduced fees and lower overhead later on - or stick with the larger firm if you are happy with them).