USF St. Petersburg campus Faculty Publications


Domestic asset tracing: Identifying, locating and freezing stolen and hidden assets.

SelectedWorks Author Profiles:

Carl J. Pacini

Debra Sinclair

Document Type


Publication Date





The rate of recovery of stolen and hidden assets from fraud and other schemes is low. This paper explores two steps of the investigative sequence in pursuing domestic (onshore) asset recovery when the objective is to recover specific assets (or their equivalent value) lost to fraud or hidden for some other purpose: asset identification and location (tracing) and asset freezing. Before pursuing asset tracing and freezing, an attorney, a forensic accountant, and a client must consider various factors, including the cost and likelihood of recovery, as well as whether there are third parties (e.g., banks, lawyers, and accountants) from whom recovery may be sought. It is necessary to obtain certain basic identifying information for any suspect or target, as well as their associates, relatives, and friends. This information can be gleaned from electronic databases, surveillance, covert operations, interviews, and other sources. This article also covers the places where assets can be hidden, as well as the various asset freezing measures available in the U.S., such as attachment, replevin, garnishment, lis pendens, and injunctions. Numerous useful websites and databases are noted throughout the paper (a list is available as a downloadable Word document, see Appendix A). The article concludes with an analysis of the importance of protecting the attorney-client privilege for a non-testifying forensic accountant.


Citation only. Full-text article is available through licensed access provided by the publisher. Members of the USF System may access the full-text of the article through the authenticated link provided.


American Accounting Association

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.