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The Debtor's Digital Autopsy or Where's the Money!

NABTalk, Journal of the National Association of Bankruptcy Trustees, Vol. 19, No. 2, Summer 2003

14 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2003  

Jack Seward

affiliation not provided to SSRN


This paper explores the practical aspects of digital forensics in bankruptcy matters. Given the use of computers and digital devices in business today, a trustee who is investigating a debtor and attempting to recover assets for the creditors *must* consider conducting a digital forensic accounting investigation.

Digital financial information ("e-data"), can be found practically everywhere you look in business today, and that is certainly true in bankruptcy and collections.

Robert C. Furr, Esq. Editor for the National Association of Bankruptcy Trustees indicated in his summer 2003 column of NABTalk® "There are no filing cabinets full of records that are easy to digest. Rather, there is a mass of computers, hard drives, software, CD ROMS, etc., from which we have to try to figure out what happened to this debtor."

A trustee has the duty to investigate the financial affairs of the Debtor and to ensure that books and records are properly turned over to the trustee. Most trustees may not have the technical expertise to properly investigate in the modern financial world of computer technology.

Lear how it is almost impossible for unscrupulous Debtors or their officers to escape from the trail of e-data left behind in today's digitized business environment. Indeed this is the digital age, and in the Bankruptcy arena that means the trustee has powerful resources available to sift through the electronic sand pit of the unscrupulous Debtor.

Obtain digital "basic training" for the 341 Meeting and learn why time is not on the Trustee's side. The debtor's *e-data* can help you find out more about its business and assets, than the debtor ever intended for you to know.

Attorneys and other professionals working for the benefit of creditors, trustees, committees, examiners, employees, shareholders, insiders, co-defendants, and other parties in interest in a bankruptcy case, will want to become familiar with this process and the necessity for using digital forensic accounting technology in bankruptcy cases.

A list of best practices is provided for the acquisition of forensic evidence as developed by the author that covers such topics as chain of evidence, acquisition of the debtor's e-data, preliminary measures for processing e-data, and the preservation e-data.

In the digital age, without the proper knowledge, skills, and a full array of digital forensic sleuthing tools on your side, you are at a disadvantage against those who will use the best of this technology.

Jack Seward is a consultant and digital forensic accounting technologist and has an association with a New York area forensic accounting firm. For many years, he has specialized in litigation support, bankruptcy, insolvency and the discovery, recovery and analysis of digital forensic accounting information for attorneys, corporations, creditors, trustees, stockholders and other interested parties. He can be contacted at or at his New York Office 917-450-9328 or Fax 212-656-1486.

JEL Classification: G33, M41, M43, M49

Suggested Citation

Seward, Jack, The Debtor's Digital Autopsy or Where's the Money!. NABTalk, Journal of the National Association of Bankruptcy Trustees, Vol. 19, No. 2, Summer 2003. Available at SSRN: or

Jack Seward (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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