Richard E. Fowlks, Attorney at Law

Watch out for hidden bitcoin assets

When people used to hide assets during a divorce, they had to physically hide the money. This led to the stereotype about a "mattress full of cash." A spouse could stash money aside, fail to disclose it during the divorce and then keep an ex from his or her fair share in court.

People still hide assets. The Internet Age has just changed how they do it.

Some experts are now warning spouses to watch out for people hiding money in bitcoin. The cryptocurrency is a digital currency that does not have a physical form, and it can easily be purchased online through smartphone apps. There is a level of secrecy to it, and some have called it "anonymous and allegedly untraceable." This can make it harder to find if someone decides not to mention that they bought it.

Depending when that purchase took place, the assets could be significant. Bitcoin currently sits at about $7,600, but it is an incredibly volatile asset. At times, it has been worth as much as $20,000. Those who bought early and got in for $1,000 or less may have seen their investments double many times over.

But even if bitcoin stays stable, it could act as a device to hide assets, especially when a spouse is not involved with the family finances and does not realize that a large amount of money simply vanished. Some would see investing and risking a loss as more profitable than giving up half in a divorce, even if it is fraud.

If you think your spouse is attempting to hide assets, make sure you know what steps to take to uncover them.

Source: Bloomberg News, "Bitcoin the New Mattress Full of Cash for Divorce Cheats," David McAfee, accessed June 07, 2018

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Richard E. Fowlks, Attorney at Law
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Portland, OR 97232

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