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Hide Your Assets and Disappear: A Step-By-Step Guide to Vanishing Without a Trace

Hide Your Assets and Disappear: A Step-By-Step Guide to Vanishing Without a Trace

by Edmund Pankau

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A New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller!

Are you tired of the way you're living? Are you fed up with everyone trying to take your most valuable possessions--your money and assets--away? Are you sick of having creditors, the IRS, or a vindictive ex-spouse nipping at your heels? If only you could disappear without a


A New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller!

Are you tired of the way you're living? Are you fed up with everyone trying to take your most valuable possessions--your money and assets--away? Are you sick of having creditors, the IRS, or a vindictive ex-spouse nipping at your heels? If only you could disappear without a trace...if only you could resurface in some exotic foreign place with a whole new identity and a brand-spanking new life.

And on the other side, how would you like to track down that ex (and his assets) who owes you money? Want to know his tricks?

For most people, this is just a fantasy. But it doesn't have to be. In Hide Your Assets and Disappear, one of the nation's top-ten-rated private investigators, Edmund J. Pankau, reveals all the tricks of his trade to show you how to hide it all or find someone who has. An experienced tracker who has worked for the government to recover missing assets, Pankau explains step-by-step how to successfully get away or find someone who has.

Filled with vivid real-life stories of both successes and failures as well as an Internet research guide, this invaluable guide outlines exactly what you should know before you go, including the ever-increasing difficulties you will face as the world becomes more tightly linked through electronic networks. Pankau shows you how to pay attention to prevent slip-ups that can give you away, from birthday phone calls to magazine subscriptions to an off-the-cuff comment to a stranger. He prepares you logistically and psychologically to successfully make the transition to your new life and new self in a new world, and gives you the best information on how to go, where to go, how to live, how to behave, and even who to become once you get there.

Should I keep my assets here or move them abroad? How do I create a new identity? How do I stay lost? Can I ever go back? How can I avoid anyone who might be looking for me? And how can I find someone who's disappeared on me? How do people fake their own deaths? What can the government do to catch a concealer? Pankau has the answer for all these questions and many more, and provides the tiny, often overlooked details that can make the difference between lounging on a tropical beach or ending up on the wrong side of the law.

Whether you're in search of a new life or someone who has hidden their assets and disappeared and left you in the lurch, listen to Edmund J. Pankau. With his unique, entertaining, eye-opening guide, he shows you how to go from victim to victor.

Thinking of disappearing without a trace? Want to find someone who has? Consider these questions...

Which is the better place to go, New Zealand or Panama?

How much cash you can legally take out of the country?

What are the hot spots the Customs Department targets as suspicious entrance points?

What is FinCEN and how can it ruin your plans?

Where is it better to keep money, the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, or Switzerland?

Should you seek out the expatriates in your new country or lay low?

What should you do if someone recognizes you in your new home?

What happens if you get sick abroad?

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.54(d)

Read an Excerpt

So You Want Out . . . What Are You Going To Do and Where Do You Want To Do It?

If you have come to the big decision that you want out of your old life and into a new one, you now have many more decisions ahead of you. Perhaps the most basic one is this: Do you want to stay in the United States or do you want to flee to another country? You don't have to answer that one just yet. In fact, you may want to read this entire book before you decide, one way or the other, which decision is best for you.

My own biases in this matter will perhaps become apparent as you read on. For many reasons, I think a person stands a better chance of success at creating a new life by moving out of the country altogether. Much of this book is geared towards doing just that. Even so, I realize that many people, for many reasons, may want to stay in the U.S. So we'll discuss this option first--including its perils and pitfalls--and then we'll talk a little bit about the alternative: expatriation.

The Long Arm Of The Credit Bureaus

Within the boundaries of the United States, it's very easy to move anywhere without setting off any alarms and whistles in the government itself. While government agencies maintain vast databases of information, they are not particularly well equipped (or motivated) to track the majority of the information contained in these databases. When they do, they usually move very slowly. The IRS charts you by your tax return, which is filed yearly, and the Social Security Administration by your employer payroll, filed quarterly and the police by your driver's license, renewed whenever the state gets around to it.

The only way they narrow inon you is if you get a speeding ticket, a DWI, or are arrested for ringing someone's bell. Now, if they have good reason to target you, it's a different story. Uncle Sam has his way to track your foreign travel, your financial transactions (over $3000) and your public record filings around the country. Oh, so you never heard of FinCen? FinCen is the Financial Crime Enforcement Network, a semi-secret division of the U.S. Treasury.

Unfortunately, this is not true of the massive credit bureaus and collection agencies. They track every single transaction you make: your credit card purchases, loans, payments on insurance policies, mortgages, car loans, credit applications, voter registration, bank accounts, and driving records. They even keep track of your new car purchases and leases, so they know when you are ready for a new car. (You've gotten those discount coupons for a new car, haven't you? They arrive right on schedule, exactly two years after your last new auto purchase.)

The credit bureaus buy tons of information from Uncle Sam that the government won't sell to you and me. We can no longer go to the post office and obtain someone's change of address information for a dollar, as we could several years ago. This information is, however, sold daily to the major credit bureaus like TRW (now Experian), TransUnion, and Equifax, and merged into skip tracing and locator databases called Missing Links, Discover, People Finder, Sleuth, Tracker, and Wizard. Where does it go after that? It is resold to marketing agencies, government and private investigators, collection agencies, and skip tracers that want to "reach out and touch someone" like you or me.

Let's face it: In this country it's far more difficult to hide from the credit bureaus, private investigators, information brokers, and collection agencies than it is from the city, county, state, and federal governments. The federal government recognizes this, and is now outsourcing and subcontracting many of its locator, background investigation, and asset searching functions to the investigative arms of the huge credit bureaus, and also to private investigators specializing in such work. For example, the IRS has now hired collection agencies to find and collect the millions of dollars in unpaid taxes and student school loans, which it has been heretofore ineffective at collecting.

In later chapters, we'll discuss some of the different agencies and the ways they can and do use information against you. (In particular, see Chapter 7, "How the Pros Will Look for You".)
For now, suffice to say: You can run, but it's getting harder and harder to hide, especially in the computerized society in the USA.

Slipping Through The Cracks

Despite the intrusiveness of the credit agencies, it is still possible to "slip through the cracks." But it may take some major re-shuffling of your spending habits and lifestyle. If you intend to hide within the United States, here are three basic rules to remember:

  1. Cut up all of your plastic. Pay cash for all of your daily, weekly, and monthly purchases.
  2. Close your bank account. (C'mon, you don't really need a checking account.) The infamous Meyer Lansky, financial wizard of organized crime, did have a checking account--but he only wrote one check a year off of the account, and that was to the Infernal Revenue Service, for his tax return. (I should know. I'm the guy who collected it from him.) Your bank account, especially if it is of the interest-bearing kind, is a government snitch. Every year, your bank faithfully reports your interest, by social security number, to Uncle Sam. The IRS and a few other nosy agencies calculate the amount of money needed to make that interest and compares it against your last tax return that would indicate any major increase in your net worth. If new accounts suddenly appear or the amount of interest rises substantially, your chances of becoming a target rise substantially.
  3. Keep your real name out of the public records. This includes driver's license, auto registration, marriage license bureaus, property ownership, voter registration records, business filings such as corporate officers, UCC borrowing documents and other local and national registrations. (See Chapter 4 for information on how to create a new identity.)
Hide Your Assets and Disappear. Copyright © by Edmund Pankau. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Edmund J. Pankau, rated one of the nation's top ten private investigators, is a world-renowned professional speaker and author of numerous articles and several award-winning books on privacy and investigation, including Check it Out: Everyone's Guide to Investigation, How to Make $100,000 a Year as a Private Investigator, and The PI Portfolio. He is the associate editor of PI magazine and a contributing writer to International Living and many financial and investigative trade journals and magazines. His experiences and cases have been featured in such publications as Time, BusinessWeek, People, USA Today, and The New York Times, and he has appeared on many radio and television shows including 20/20, Larry King Live, BBC London, and America's Most Wanted as an authority on privacy issues.

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