Hide and Go Seek is a children’s game that is often played by one or both spouses involved in divorce proceedings.In recent years, the “hiding” spouses have developed a number of sophisticated techniques to keep assets off the marital balance sheet. Detecting these schemes often requires the Forensic Accountant to venture outside his or her comfort zone and occasionally obtain the services of specialized consultants, such as detectives.
Often overlooked in the asset search are hoards of cash and other valuables that could be hiding in plain sight. Hiding places for valuables in the modern home range from the obvious to the ingenious. A detective friend of mine shared some of the more interesting places she has found hidden goodies during searches of homes.
A hardwood floor in an upscale living room contained a hollow space beneath three of the floor boards that contained $100,000 in diamonds. A bag containing cash was suspended below an electric outlet box. False walls in closets or pantries acted as cash and other valuable store rooms. She once found a hole in a wall covered with a mirror that held a valuable stamp collection. Scratches around air duct cover screws have led to bags of stolen goods in the ducts. Perhaps the simplest method she found was the fellow who had stuffed $50,000 into the seat cushions of his couch.
The attic provides a host of great places to hide cash and valuable. She told me she once found a coin collection valued at $75,000 under the insulation in an attic. Often valuables are hidden in plain sight in old luggage and plastic tubs stuffed in the back of the attic.
Plumbing systems in most modern homes today use plastic pipe to move liquids around. Excellent hiding places can be created by installing fake pipes into the plumbing system. My friend told me of a criminal that had hid thousands of dollars in stolen jewelry in water pipes that ran across the ceiling in the basement but didn’t actually hook into anything.
I must admit that I have never done a home search looking for these types of caches and I am not sure I would be any good at it. However, I have suggested to clients that they do it themselves when the financial information presented in the case indicates missing assets that can’t be accounted for otherwise.
I would like to hear from my readers regarding their experiences with hidden assets of this kind.