Career Profile: Asset Hunter

Finally, there’s something we can thank Bernie Madoff for–he’s actually reinvigorated an industry, the asset forfeiture and seizure industry.  The asset forfeiture and seizure industry is actually a niche or arm of the law enforcement industry.  This niche is not new, but it’s certainly got a new spark in our new age of a thousand Ponzi schemes.

What is an Asset Hunter?

An Asset Hunter, also known as an Asset Specialist, Asset Recovery Agent, Asset Forfeiture Specialists, Financial Investigator or Fraud Investigator, is someone who finds hard-to-find, and often illegal, assets hidden by dirty cops, hedge fund managers, mobsters, and divorcing couples.

What does an Asset Hunter do?

Asset Hunters scour financial and other records, put swindlers under surveillance, and use whatever legal means available to them to reclaim the spoils of crime and return it to victims.  For some asset hunters, it’s as simple as following a crook around for a few months; for other asset hunters, finding well-hidden assets requires pouring over cooked books, traveling to exotic places and getting too close to scary people.

The exact mechanisms through which Asset Hunters find and seize assets varies depending on the Asset Hunter’s specialty.  An Asset Hunter with a background in forensic accounting might focus on finding anomalies in financial documents and transactions.  An Asset Hunter with a background as a DEA agent might use elaborate undercover operations, and an Asset Hunter with a background as a customs agent might monitor shipments.

Additionally, Asset Hunters generally specialize in a type of asset hunting, i.e. international money laundering, high-net worth divorces, tax fraud, or drug cases, and may also run business units that liquidate, or sell, recovered assets in order to pay fraud victims.

For Whom Asset Hunters work?

Asset Hunters generally work as independent contractors or for private law enforcement firms, but they may also work for the government and for attorneys’ offices.  These Asset Hunters contract their services to the government, to attorneys, to divorcing couples and anyone else with a legal right or need to find hidden assets.

Asset Hunters may also migrate to the dark side and work for wealthy scam artists in search of good places to hide their assets from the Tax Man and their ex-wives.  In this case, Asset Hunters, help their clients hide their assets from investors, spouses, the government and other asset hunters.

How much do Asset Hunters earn?

The average Asset Hunters earns $30,000-$60,000 per year, but those in senior positions, those who own their firms, those with law or accounting degrees, and those with many years of law enforcement experience can easily earn six figures.  Asset Hunters who own full-service asset recovery firms that find, reclaim and liquidate assets, you can earn millions because you’ll earn a percentage of the sales in addition to your investigation fees.

Who might love it?

Anyone who’s ever wanted to be Robin Hood.

To break in…

Most Asset Hunters come to the profession as former FBI, DEA, IRS and customs agents; defense attorneys; and private investigators.  But, having a background in forensics, accounting, auditing, technology (hacker), and collections are also great preparation for asset hunting.

Get More Info

AssetForfeitureWatch – Source of news, information and training for law enforcement professionals and others working in the asset forfeiture field; producers of the annual Asset Forfeiture Global Conference.

Association of Certified Asset Forfeiture Specialists – Provides training and certification to asset hunters

FBI Asset Forfeiture Programs – Information on the FBI’s Asset Forfeiture/Victim Witness Unit hires agents to work in health care fraud, white collar and drug crime investigations.

Current Asset Hunter Job Openings

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