Locating hidden assets under the mattress or finding that stamp collection is no easy task, but there are legal and legitimate ways to locate hidden assets that you may not have thought of before:
- Surveillance – Follow anyone for a few days and you can find out quite a bit about them: where they eat, the people they meet, where they work and with whom they associate. It can also lead you to a yacht registered in the Cayman Islands, a vacation home listed in a relative’s name or a business that you didn’t know about.
- Dumpster Diving – Depending on local laws and regulations, someone’s trash may be a perfectly legal and legitimate way to find bank statements, financial records or other records that can lead you to significant assets. It may be a little messy, but this may be the most effective (and legal) way to get financial details.
- Interviews – As we chronicled earlier, there are numerous open sources/public records that can be reviewed and analyzed to find assets. In some cases, however, you may need to take it a step further and conduct interviews. Former business partners, opposing parties in litigation, former neighbors or co-workers may provide clues to locate hidden assets.
- Business Affiliations – The individual for whom you are trying to locate hidden assets may not have any assets held directly in his or her name, but he or she may be holding assets under a corporate veil to insulate himself or herself or hide the assets from prying eyes. In addition to searching for corporate affiliations of the party you are looking into, corporations can be set up under the names of family members or close business associates, or in states such as Delaware where you can maintain anonymity. In a recent case, we identified more than $3 million in government contracts that were recently awarded to an entity related to the subject company.
- Family Members or Business Associates – In order to shield assets, parties who are in financial trouble may try to “park” hidden assets with immediate family members, close business associates or even distant relatives until the dust settles. In doing so, they can mask their true net worth with “trusted” associates until the coast is clear.
- Overseas Assets – Parking assets overseas is a common way to hide assets. While banking regulations overseas may prohibit you from legally obtaining bank records, items such as real property, boats, corporations or, in some cases, income tax records may be publicly accessible. Before you get too excited, there is no comprehensive way to search for assets overseas. Knowing where to look, and the specific countries the party may be linked to, will be the keys to successfully identifying any assets held overseas.
This post is part of a series of posts titled The Anatomy of an Asset Investigation.