In a recent GQ thread I startedFrank Lucas (the man on whom American Gangster was based) I mentioned my surprise that the U.S. government seized more than $200 million of his assets even though they were in Swiss and Caribbean numbered accounts under a variety of names and numbers. (I didn’t realize they could do that.)
So here’s the situation: you have $10 million in cash/jewels/bearer bonds/baseball cards/etc. that you need to hide. (Because I don’t encourage anybody to do anything illegal this is assuming that you’re in possession of it legally of course and that you just have to stash it somewhere to keep…uh… your corrupt brother-in-law from finding it- you think he’s an al-Qaeda op and in on the Nigerian scam as well and he also has access to hidden account records so you’re actually doing America a favor by hiding it.) So, since you can’t hide it safely in a foreign account, where would you put it?
Assume that the stash could fit into a very large suitcase, or could be laid flat in about the size of a large tablecloth perhaps. (This isn’t something you can hide in a shower drain an Altoids box in other words.)
In doing genealogical research I’ve encountered more itty bitty backwoods family cemeteries than you ever realized existed and most of them on backroads with no house- often no road- in sight. I think one of these would be perfect- take a trusted lookout if possible and if not take infrared specs and the like to make sure you’re not being watched (and best not to do this in hunting season). Dig a deep hole, drop in the fireproof/waterproof case, and do as much stomping of ground (mechanically if possible) and sowing of wild grass seeds to remove signs of the hole.
I would not try to make it look like a grave, at least not a marked one; lots of these places have indentations where there could well be an unmarked grave though. Mainly I’d remember its geocaching coordinates, or for more low tech remember that if you put a string from the headstone of Zadok Montagu and the headstone of Obesity Farnsworth the “resting place” of the stash is at exactly the halfway mark and several feet down.
Seriously, need to think on this but your idea sounds good maybe it would be possible to use a plastic box as a metal one would show up to someone wandering through with a metal detector. Unlikely, I know but still.
Well, first I’d convert it into something with as little mass as possible. If I could make it into a single bearer bond, for example, that’s what I’d do. Even better if it’s a form that won’t easily depreciate with market conditions. Bonus points for something that’s not apparently valuable at first glance, like the aforementioned baseball cards.
I’d decide how to hide it from there. For the baseball cards, for example, I might sandwich it in between two lesser cards in a display binder. Jewels, being non-detectable by metal detectors and being rocks, lend themselves well to burial (where, as speculated in the OP, I’d have to think about). A ten million dollar bill, maybe I’d put behind one of my diplomas.
If the item(s) were non-flamable, I would choose a cubby of some sort: a false wall in the back of a closet, an area between floor joists or dummy electrical outlets. flamable items could be put in some of these places with the addition of a fire box.
The kitchen would also offer some good hiding places: a carefully opened tin can (using one of those can openers that cuts the tops in a way that the can can be reclosed), washed carefully so that the label remains, the freezer (possibly in a package marked, oh, say, liver or pigs feet) or a false panel in a cabinet drawer.
In a rural environment, outbuildings offer many possibilities as well as the suggestion Sampiro made.
Bearer bonds seem most practical but I like the idea of a bejeweled replica of the Maltese Falcon, including the lead covering. That way I could display it in the living room as merely a copy of a movie prop.
First I’d set up about five or six safe-deposit boxes in local banks. In the first one is a key, and some sort of coded message that says which bank is next. This goes so on down the line until the last bank, which has coded instructions and a key to the first bank. That ought to keep my evil brother-in-law busy and out of my hair while I just go cash the damn item in question and invest everything in some mutual funds. How’s he gonna get his hands on those?
Hmm… I’d use other funds to buy a friend or associate a spare room bed.
Then have the case built into the box spring. After I’m sure that the Feds or my asshole brother-in-law are no longer watching my every move, I’d just ask to spend a night, and then retrieve the case, and leave in the morning.
Convert it into lots of high quality but small (5 carats or less?) diamonds and have them on my person (I am a girl, so I have a built-in hideout :eek: ). I travel around and when I need cash, I sell one.
The corner post in my pasture fence needs replacing anyway. I’d hook the post-hole digger up to the tractor, dig a hole for the new post, but a little too deep. Drop all the metal and jewelry in there and set the new post on top of the treasure.
Now, the baseball cards and cash have to be stashed elsewhere. A friend of mine buried some paper money in a can in his back yard once. Luckily, he dug it up just before it was so decomposed that it couldn’t be converted to good bills at a bank. You don’t want to bury paper, even in a container.
I don’t remember if I heard this here or if one of my in-laws told it to me. Eitherway, someone was cleaning out the house of a recently deceased friend/family member. During the cleaning they kept their eyes open as they knew there was quite a bit of money hidden away somewhere. By the last day of cleaning they had given up on the money. As they were bringing the last box out of the basement, their foot caught the edge of one of the treads and it lifted. Yup, the person had built a box underone of the stairs with a hinged tread to access it. That always seemed like a good place to hide stuff.
I think a lot depends on how long you needed to hide it. If it was a long time, I’d probably put the goods in an airtight plastic box, and bury it in the forest somewhere, well of the beaten path, and record the location with a GPS. I would then encode the location into a photo via steganography, and post the image on several photo hosting sites anonymously. That way, even if all my possessions are seized, I could eventually find my way back to the correct spot.
I toured a house once that actually had locking drawers in every other step on the staircase. They were very obvious- not hidden- but I thought it was a great idea.
My tinfoil hat justification for why I would never buy diamonds for hidden/portable wealth is the terror that as soon as I sank a few million into them the synthetic diamonds would hit the market and all of them would plunge in value, so instead of $5 million worth I’d suddenly have $50,000 worth. OTOH, baseball cards or stamps or gold coins [the ancient variety, or perhaps the 1933 double eagle if its owner would sell it] should be safe- no way to synthesize them yet at least (reproduce of course, yes, but they can’t make a fake so good that it’s indistinguishable.)
I can’t quite do it yet, but once I get my Ph.D., I’d stash paper wealth (bonds, etc.) in between the pages of the university library’s complimentary copy of the thesis. Depending on the binding service I use, I might even bind it into the book, so it doesn’t fall out if merely shaken. If anyone ever actually wants to read it, they’ll go to either the electronic copy, or the department’s copy, not the university’s copy. On the other hand, the library copy would have enough sentimental value that it would be not at all suspicious if I occasionally go into the stacks at odd hours to leaf through it.