How do I get my money back from a scumbag?
February 15, 2007 11:55 AM   Subscribe

What is the best way to pressure someone living in a foreign country to return money that he owes my family?

A U.S. citizen living in Taiwan owes my elderly dad a lot of money from a real estate scam. There is even a U.S. arrest warrant out on him, which is why he fled to Taiwan. Court action seems futile since he has hidden his assets or transferred them to his family members' accounts. I would like to hear any and all options and ideas out there. Thank you for your help.
posted by KimikoPi to Work & Money (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
posted by koudelka at 12:55 PM on February 15, 2007

First, you are likely screwed and need to come to terms with that.

Second, look into getting more offenses piled on (flight to evade capture, etc. etc.). The longer the list of crimes, the more likely someone's going to care. This also makes it less likely the person will be able to sneak back into the US.

I suppose you could try to work the shame angle, depending on Taiwanese libel/slander laws, by paying for large advertising in the area where the criminal now lives ("Mr. Hsu is a wanted criminal! Does Mr. Hsu live near you? Has he stolen from you yet?")

If he's living in a suitably small town, you could try shaming the entire town by implying they're a den of thieves or the like.

...but realistically, you're probably just screwed and anything you can do to him will just cost you more money than has already been lost.
posted by aramaic at 12:55 PM on February 15, 2007

Do you know WHERE in Taiwan, an address or a contact or anything at all? Surely if he has set up residence there, he is traceable, especially since he is a US, and not a Taiwanese, citizen.

You should hire a private detective to find out about any interests, family, or assets that this person is maintaining stateside. That may give you a hook into at least making contact or an agreement with this person. And while I am not advocating anything illegal, you can make things pretty stressful for his US family members until he comes out of hiding and deals with this.

Seriously. Because the only other thing is to swallow hard and take a deep breath and chalk this up to the impermanence and unfairness of life and the transience of our material priorities. Forgiving the debt only seems impossible, but ultimately it is the easiest option and would require the least effort.
posted by hermitosis at 1:03 PM on February 15, 2007

have you considered criminal action on your part?

no, seriously. the money is gone.
posted by krautland at 1:04 PM on February 15, 2007

Sue the family members, use the discovery process to find out if the transfer happened after the scam and go after the family members if so.
posted by rhizome at 1:05 PM on February 15, 2007

Hired Goons
posted by milarepa at 1:15 PM on February 15, 2007

If the guy does have family in the US, take the RIAA approach and hurt them financially. Sue everyone you can get your hands on, and make it painful (get them served their papers at work, at church, while golfing with their boss, etc).

Don't be afraid to sue kids, either. If he's got a 19yr old daughter in college, sue her on the grounds that her education is being paid for with stolen money. Try to get her car seized. If his mom is in a nursing home, sue her & try to get her evicted. Since the culprit has already fled, you can probably make a good claim that his family will too, and perhaps get their passports seized.

Eventually you'll will run out of money to sue with, you'll be shot by an aggrieved victim, or you'll get your money back in nickles and dimes.

I am not a lawyer, and I may have given you "advice" that will get you thrown in jail. Or not.
posted by aramaic at 1:38 PM on February 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

You should talk with a lawyer. I agree there may be room to go after the family, and don't think you should hesitate.
posted by xammerboy at 1:46 PM on February 15, 2007

i don't know, but i hope any solution you arrive at involves the liberal use of thumb-screws.
posted by wreckingball at 2:29 PM on February 15, 2007

Have you considered contacting the Taiwanese embassy and explaining the situation? Show them the court decision. They might want to send him back too. They certainly don't want a foreign criminal in their midst.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:22 PM on February 15, 2007

aramaic's advice is a great way to end up paying their lawyers as well as yours. You also might find yourself on the receiving end of lots of lawsuits in multiple jurisdictions for filing frivolous lawsuits against them, which they could probably actually get you for. I'd sure as hell do that if I were them and you were suing me for no legitimate reason.
posted by oaf at 2:47 PM on February 16, 2007

(My asshole of a relative stealing your money doesn't give you any real leverage over me. I'm not him, and I'm not responsible for what he does.)
posted by oaf at 2:48 PM on February 16, 2007

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