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View Full Version : Q: murder for hire - following the money trail...



Jill_Blake
06-01-2016, 10:13 AM
Here's the scenario: MC's wife is killed, and MC is now murder suspect. Video footage points to someone else actually doing the deed (physical characteristics don't match the MC), so now it's a possible murder-for-hire scenario.

my q's:

what kind of financial records do police examine?
is there a specific person who does the examining (e.g. forensic accountant?)
how long would investigation of financials take, and how far back would the records need to go?
if additional evidence is taken from MC's home and office, such as computer equipment - does this equipment ever get returned to the MC if nothing incriminating is found on it? if returned, what's the typical timeline?
how much access to MC's finances do police have? e.g. are they able to get account numbers, and actual $ amts, or is it more general, like: have there been any transfers/withdrawals of >x amt over y time?


thanks!

neandermagnon
06-01-2016, 12:04 PM
I work in mortgages and have done loads of anti money laundering training. Bear in mind that I'm British and the law may be different over here.


Here's the scenario: MC's wife is killed, and MC is now murder suspect. Video footage points to someone else actually doing the deed (physical characteristics don't match the MC), so now it's a possible murder-for-hire scenario.

my q's:

what kind of financial records do police examine?


They can request financial records from the bank and will work closely with the bank's anti-money laundering department. They can investigate records of financial transactions and documents supplied to the bank to determine if any of them are evidence of money laundering.






is there a specific person who does the examining (e.g. forensic accountant?)


The bank will have an anti money laundering department (it may not be called this, it may have some cryptic sounding name and the bank will never let a customer know that anything of theirs has been referred to it).

The police will have dedicated officers for investigating money laundering.






how long would investigation of financials take, and how far back would the records need to go?


The police and AML department will investigate the whole audit trail if necessary. How long it takes depends on how dodgy everything is. They will keep collecting evidence until they have enough for a conviction. They won't let the person know that their account is under investigation and it's illegal for bank staff to tell them (that's tipping off and can result in 2 years in jail, because it's possible that if you're alerting potential suspects to this, that you're in league with organised criminals and warning them about it) plus it's shitty customer service "oh yeah, we think you're laundering money" lol.






if additional evidence is taken from MC's home and office, such as computer equipment - does this equipment ever get returned to the MC if nothing incriminating is found on it? if returned, what's the typical timeline?


The police will return confiscated equipment if nothing incriminating is found. Bear in mind that they won't usually need to confiscate anything from someone's home/computer to investigate money laundering. The audit trail (including any fake documents that have been given to the bank to make their audit trail look legit) is with the banks, etc.






how much access to MC's finances do police have? e.g. are they able to get account numbers, and actual $ amts, or is it more general, like: have there been any transfers/withdrawals of >x amt over y time?



They can request whatever info or documents they need from the banks AML department.



Looking at your scenario, if he's paid a hitman, it's not going to be the kind of transaction where the hitman gets paid right into his bank account. The hitman would take the money in cash and there'd be no audit trail beyond the husband making (a) large cash withdrawal(s). I, personally, would not buy it at all if someone paid a hitman directly into his bank account via online banking. Anyone who's involved enough in organised crime to be a hitman isn't going to be that stupid.

If the police suspect that the person who did the murder is a hitman, and they know who he is, they could investigate his accounts for evidence of money laundering, but if they don't know who did it, they can't do this.

The police could ask the bank if the husband withdrew a large amount of cash prior to the murder, but as it would be cash, they wouldn't be able to link it directly to the hitman. It's circumstantial evidence only.

Also, in your scenario, I'm not sure why the police would think it was a hitman just because someone else did the murder, not him. They'd need a good reason to suspect the husband of hiring a hitman. They wouldn't think "someone else did the murder let's see if the husband paid a hitman" without some other compelling evidence that he may have done this. At this point if they have such evidence, they may well go to the bank and see if he'd made any large cash withdrawals.

Maybe they already found out that he'd made a large cash withdrawal from his bank account, e.g. they found several receipts from ATMs on consecutive days showing him withdrawing the maximum amount of cash each time. That would be a pattern of transactions that would warrant investigation - but hiring a hitman is only one possible reason. It could be that someone was blackmailing him and his wife was murdered by the blackmailer. Even if hiring a hitman was what happened, they already have as much of the audit trail as they're ever going to get with the ATM receipts and won't need to go to the bank for more. Plus there may be a totally legal, legit reason for someone withdrawing loads of cash - it's not illegal to use cash for transactions, however large.

hope that helps

Please bear in mind the Britishness of my answers and that my job involves mortgages, and I don't work for the police or in the company's AML department.

ironmikezero
06-01-2016, 11:11 PM
Hmm, this is a pretty wide net you're casting here . . .

Assuming this is in the US, all the fiscal data you've referenced is to some degree accessible--some even via public records--or by subpoenas, or by search warrants. Sometimes the person consents, allowing full access. And yes, the police will look at everything.

Almost all LE agencies have experts, or have access thereto, to fully analyze the financial data. The time factor is largely irrelevant; they can go back as far as necessary (or permitted pursuant to the parameters articulated within subpoenas/search warrants) in the analysis.

Anything taken/seized pursuant to a search warrant (home, office, etc.) and subsequently found to be of no evidentiary value can be returned, usually with the approval of the prosecutorial authority. A (defense) motion filed with the court asking for the return of such may (or may not) speed the process. Anything kept as evidence remains in LE custody until submitted/admitted as evidence to the court; it is then in the court's custody. In most cases, such evidence is kept until after a potential appellate procedure concludes. Some evidence is kept indefinitely, or destroyed per court order (e.g., contraband, etc.).

In the absence of a conviction (finding of not guilty), items in evidence not deemed contraband or prohibited may be returned to the rightful owner. Sometimes it takes an appropriate motion filed with the court.

Twick
06-01-2016, 11:24 PM
It should be pointed out that although a professional hitman would be stupid to take direct deposit, there are apparently a lot of stupid amateurs who fantasize that they're hitmen. So, if the hitman is really Cousin Frank who reads mercenary mags and thinks that makes him Silent and Deadly, it would work.

Trebor1415
06-02-2016, 12:18 AM
The idea of the "pro high prices hitman" is more of a myth than anything. In real life, outside of a Mafia style hit, any "arranged murder" is usually set up locally by the person who wants someone killed finding someone they know and convincing them to do the job. Often the cash amount is so small that tracing financial records won't turn up anything concrete. We're talking in the low single thousands here or less.

jclarkdawe
06-02-2016, 04:47 AM
You're going to have to set up some evidence of this being a murder-for-hire for the police to investigate a suspect's computer and financial records. What you have here is not going to get you there.

As others have stated, this isn't going to be too difficult to find, if you know the answer. Otherwise, it's going to be a high end four figure cash transaction, showing in the bank records as a withdrawal for cash. But if the suspect comes up with a good answer (I had to pay off my loan shark, for example.) it isn't going to get you much.

Jim Clark-Dawe

Jill_Blake
06-02-2016, 09:33 AM
I appreciate all your feedback! It sounds like the money trail is limited to cash withdrawals made by MC...

I'm interested in having MC ruled out as suspect. So...if crime scene evidence points to someone else (not yet identified, just someone who looks different based on security camera footage, and whose DNA will eventually prove to not match the MC but isn't necessarily in any database), then as long as MC made no big cash withdrawals (in weeks? Months?) prior to murder, and didn't have obvious contact with people outside of his usual circle (as evidenced by ? Phone records? Email?), he should be in the clear?

jclarkdawe
06-02-2016, 04:24 PM
He's turned over his financial records at the police department's request and without a search warrant and nothing suspicious was found. This would be a factor in clearing him, but by itself wouldn't do it. Police officers don't announce what their criteria is for clearing someone in a situation like this. There's no legal standard that they have to meet.

The police have good reason to believe that a murder is caused by the significant other. That assumption is correct a lot of times. You have to have pretty substantial evidence to make the police comfortable with the fact that the significant other is not involved.

Jim Clark-Dawe