Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc. is proof that a handshake no longer forms a sound enough base for lots of business deals in the Lone Star State.
Witness the case of a Houston bank with an oil man about to default on a $3 million loan. The oil man claimed poverty. The bank suspected otherwise.
Enter Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc., a Houston investigations and security firm.
In slightly more than a week, the firm ha combed public records in Houston and state records in Austin to find numerous companies and real estate holdings belonging to the oil man
In all, it produced a report more than a half-inch thick showing assets of more than $7 million.
Rob Kimmons, a former Houston police sergeant and a private investigator, runs Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc., which has completed 450 investigations and is now taking in $15,000 to $20,000 a month in investigation fees.
Two Austin banks and several Houston banks use the firm to help track hidden assets belonging to bad-loan customers.
Other clients include investors checking out potential business partners, creditors looking into bankruptcy cases, and divorcees looking for their spouses’ secret wealth. The company uses only public records – county and state tax records, business filings, and court records – to track its targets.
The firm charges $1,500 plus expenses for an investigation and $500 for a smaller report called a “pre-client check.”
One Austin investor was considering an offer to become co-owner in an office building here with a Tennessee businessman, each putting up several million dollars into the deal.
The Tennessee man even came up with $20,000 cash as a show of his good faith and financial heft.
But a further check by Kimmons Investigative Services, Inc. showed the Tennessee man had virtually no assets. His business address turned out to be a Nashville parking garage.
Although the company does much of its work around Houston, it sees Austin as an area ripe with opportunity.
“If you’ve got a lot of growth, you’ve got a lot of people coming in.” said Mike Guidry, the company’s executive Vice-President. “A number of them are flimflam people.”
By Kirk Ladendorf, Business Editor