We’ve heard of people stowing money beneath the mattress and under floorboards before, but we recently came across this article about the family of convicted Ponzi-schemer Ron Wilson hiding Wilson’s money for him in ammunition canisters.  That’s a new hiding spot for us.

Wilson’s brother, Tim, and estranged wife, Cassie, pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to obstruct justice in a South Carolina federal court.  This was no small offense, the charge carries up to five years in jail and a $250,000 fine.  According to the article, Ron Wilson handed over the canisters of cash to Tim and Cassie right before he was set to plead guilty to mail fraud, in case he were ever released from prison.   Cassie Wilson’s canister had $172,859 and Tim got $164,300.

We’re blogging about this story not because we think ammunition canisters are the first place you should look for assets, but because this story highlights two things that we come across regularly in asset searches:

  1. People tend to stash their money with close friends and family.  We’ve blogged about this here before.  If someone wants to appear cash/asset poor, friends and family are a good place to stow money or other assets because, chances are, they’ll give it back.  We always look at the full picture and have been successful at identifying transfers of assets from our debtor to a close friend or family member for our clients.
  2. People get creative when they hide their money.  It’s important to approach asset searches with an open mind.  Before we start any marital asset search, we ask our client to fill out a questionnaire about their spouse.  The more information we have about our subject, the more assets we are likely to find and the greater chance we’ll be attuned to something about our debtor that just might be the key to finding their assets.

So you may not have to go running to find ammunition canisters in the house, but when approaching an asset search, really think about your debtor.  Where or with whom might he/she hide assets?  You probably know more than you think.