There are different reasons why people hide their assets and often they are illegal. It could be intended for tax evasions or prevent spouses to get valuable assets during the divorce process. Before looking for hidden assets, you should be aware that people who hide assets are usually quite smart, but they can be scoundrel as well. Hidden assets could be the first hint of problem. People won’t hide their assets if they don’t have bad intentions. When assets are hidden fraudulently, this activity is considered illegal. When starting search for hidden assets, you should begin with the subject and those around him/her. A very common way to hide asset is to transfer ownership to spouse, children, relatives, close friends or business partners. In some cases, bank accounts using fake identities can be created to hold hidden money. Investigators should make a list of aliases for each individual in the list. If there’s a person with more an alias or two, then it’s enough to raise the red flag of suspicion. With the right method, it will be relatively quick and easy to prove hidden assets.
Things can be quite tricky when the subject moves their assets overseas to any offshore account. Countries like Switzerland, Cayman Islands and the Bahamas are known for their secretive and protectionist banking laws. Banking institutions are not affected by court claims made in other countries. Hidden assets are usually liquid. Other than money, they may include mutual funds, bonds and stocks. Money could also be hidden when converted into savings bonds, traveller’s cheques and any stockbroker-like account. Subjects may simply use the money to pay down credit card balances, overpay the IRS and pay down the mortgage. Small, expensive artworks are also ideal for hiding a large sum of money. Because small objects are easy to hide, you may need to physically examine the area for safe boxes or boxes. Subjects could also seek to hide non-liquid assets, such as boats, expensive cars and real estate properties. A common way to do this is by transferring ownership. It is hard to undo the asset of transfer if an asset is converted into offshore trust accounts, real estate, multi generation trust or living trust.
However, not all transfers are fraudulent, so you need to know which one is genuine and which one is illegal. You should check the timing and the amount compared to the total net worth of the debtor’s. It is important to prove that a transfer is done in anticipation of bankruptcy, litigation or divorce process. If illegal transfers can be proven, then you may reverse them. Scoundrels could also hide assets in companies, by making investment in a project. In this case, the money can be claimed after the completion of the project. There are different ways to search for hidden assets. A common way is to perform online searches and there are services that are dedicated to help legal professionals to track illegal transfers of assets. Another method is called mud searches, which is by directly following the debtor to see who and what places that they visit. Investigators may also look in the trash to find documents that give clue to the whereabouts of the hidden assets.