Be Nosy!!!

A Lake Forest business man has been in the news recently for allegedly tricking investors into giving him large sums of money and then spending it on his family's lavish lifestyle. The Chicago Tribune investigation revealed, among other things, that this guy has been sued 50 times and has filed for bankruptcy eight times. The investors who lost their money are furious, and rightfully so. Many emptied their retirement accounts because they believed the man.

The lesson here: Be nosy.

In Cook County, you can look up any lawsuit. It's public record. You can see who has filed a lawsuit and who has been sued and by whom.  Same for divorces, probate or pretty much anything that's been filed.  Just go to  You can't get all the details of the lawsuit, but it's free. If you want more information, you can go down to the Daley Center and look at the court documents yourself. It's the same for other counties in Illinois, as well. Federal court case information is available online, however there is a fee for access.

The Lake Forest business man had been a repeat offender. Sure, the system should have stopped him a long time ago, but you can't always count on the system. Sometimes you need to do your own research to make sure you're not getting taken advantage of. Court records are a good resource, especially if you are dealing with someone new, going into business with them, or you have a lot of money at stake.

Another resource is the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. If you need to look up a professional who holds a license, this is the place. The agency keeps records on many professionals, from doctors to accountants to home inspectors. If you want to see whether you psychologist's license has been suspended, you can simply look it up online (

For attorney licenses, check the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission's website ( You can look up any Illinois attorney and it will tell you whether they're licensed, active and in good standing in Illinois.

Lastly, don't forget about Google. A simple search can reveal a lot of information, and raise some red flags if there are any.

As they say, appearances can be deceiving. You don't necessarily need to hire a private investigator to look into someone's background, but don't blow it off either. Do your research up front to avoid disaster down the road.


Legal Tip Of The Day from Chicago lawyer Bradford Miller: Chicago has a unique ordinance applying to most landlord-tenant relationships. If you are a landlord in Chicago, make sure you read and follow the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance.  Failure to follow the ordinance can result in significant damages being awarded to the tenant.


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