For a variety of reasons, asset searches are one of the most difficult things an investigator can do; finding “hidden” assets is even tougher (they wouldn’t be called “hidden” if they were easy to find).

Assets can be hidden in all sorts of places such as property in a family member’s name, a shell company, an offshore bank account, gold bars in a safe deposit box, a stamp collection or even a box of cash buried in the backyard. These types of hidden assets are difficult to find.

There are literally hundreds of things you can do to conduct an asset search, but one part of an asset search that is often overlooked is searching UCC filings.

Without getting too technical, a UCC filing is a lien placed on a business or the assets of a business and registered with the state in which the business is located when a business gets a loan. Typically, the lien is collateralized by the revenues of the company, inventory or some other type of collateral in case the loan is not repaid. UCC filings are publicly available, typically at the office of the Secretary of State or Department of State in the state that it was filed.

Over the years of conducting asset searches, among the things that I have seen listed as collateral include an art collection, a gold coin collection and an extensive jewelry collection. As noted above, these are difficult-to-find, or “hidden,” assets because there is little trace of them. For example, purchasing real property, a car, a boat or an aircraft can be traced because the ownership has to be filed with the local or state government. In contrast, the gold coin collection or the jewelry does not have to be registered and can be easily transferred to another party.

As for the bloody sock, The Boston Globe reported that the infamous sock worn by Curt Schilling during the 2004 World Series was listed as collateral to a bank in a filing earlier this month. (Here is a little history on the bloody sock in case you are not a baseball fan.) He also listed several other important pieces of memorabilia, including a 1927 hat worn by Lou Gehrig.

We are not suggesting that Schilling is hiding assets; however, this does provide another great example of how hidden assets can show up in all kinds of places, including UCC filings.

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2 replies
  1. Dom
    Dom says:

    As Brian as pointed out they are ‘hidden’ and very hard to find. Most of the times they are ‘hidden’ for a reason, this applies to tracing if somebody is very hard to trace they are ‘hidden’ for a reason and these sort of enquiries take a long time but with the right team and dedication you can get a result most of the time.

    • Brian Willingham
      Brian Willingham says:

      I agree that some additional time and money may find some hidden assets, but it’s not always the case.

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