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Using Pretext

Pretext is often an effective technique for discovering account information even at supposedly safe offshore banks. An attorney friend of ours told us the story of a client who had stashed $2 million in an account at a Caribbean bank, in preparation for a nasty divorce. For a variety of reasons, there was no trail from the U.S. showing the transfer to the foreign bank so nothing in his banking records provided a tip-off for the wife. But her private investigator secured the husband’s telephone records-ran a reverse directory check on the numbers-and found calls to a prominent overseas bank. Then, using a pretext strategy similar to the wire transfer ruse, he learned the account balance from the bank itself. Before this evidence could be presented to the judge-creating perjury and potential tax problems-the husband paid up-and far more than $2 million.

Many of the offshore banks-despite their purported secrecy-are as vulnerable to pretext calls as their American counterparts are. When the existence of the account is discovered through telephone records or other documents, experienced investigators will often be successful in obtaining the details that they are seeking.

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