Where Delinquent Judgment Money Is Hiding

  • 3 min read

If you have a judgment against a third party and they owe you money, it’s delinquent. You’re very likely not going to find a big pile of cash sitting in a bank account in their name. So where do judgment debtors hide their money? And in a 20-year history of doing investigations, we have found that the money or the asset is usually in one of three places. 

If it’s a liquid asset—something that’s easily transferred to cash or not—it’s something like real estate vehicles. business equipment, those things are, in many cases, vested in another person’s name. So sometimes a judgment debtor will be afraid. Somebody’s going to steal their car or see their car. They’ll put it in another trusted person’s name—a cousin, a family member, or sometimes even an attorney. In some cases, they’ll actually put the house in another person’s name but continue to pay the taxes and insurance. That’s the way you can find that house. Sometimes they’ll have an asset, like a house, that they’ll put a lien on to protect it against other people seizing it, and that lien will be held by a closely related person.

Another place that assets are often hidden is intangible property. The person has a business. They can put more money into inventory, business equipment, or upgrades to that business, and they can downplay the profit from that business to not show too much in terms of cash flowing to them. Another really good place is that. Judgment debt is hiding in future earnings. Sometimes people artificially depress their earnings, whether it’s from a business or even from their employer, to keep that money as an asset that they can tap into later. 

So any type of asset that OTU usually has in some other form, remember that a debtor is not going to let it go too far from them because if they do, they’re afraid that they could not have access to it. So it’s usually within arm’s length, which in many cases these assets require. And what we call “sustaining payments.” If it’s a car, it needs to have insurance. If it’s a house, it needs to have taxes; anything that needs sustaining payments. So in many cases, if it’s in another person’s name, that person isn’t going to be making the payments on it. It’s your debtor that will, so finding those small payments will help you find the larger asset that maybe then you can show is really an asset that belongs to you.

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