The process of tracing and identifying stolen assets may involve legal manoeuvring as well as practical investigative actions to determine the location of the assets and funds (“follow the money”) and whether the assets and funds can be linked to the crime or to the offender, or both, since funds and assets are often held by third parties.
Such information may be obtained in a variety of ways, such as by directly accessing public registers or by way of judicial or administrative assistance – provided, of course, that the relevant jurisdiction maintains such registers and that they can be accessed. A thorough investigation may include accessing any or all of the following registers or databases: land registry, company register, company records, register of non-profit organisations, court records, tax records, vehicle registration register, criminal records, register of bank accounts, immigration records, border crossing and customs records, etc.
It is of utmost importance for any victim and investigator on such a case to refrain from taking any illegal action. Under no circumstances should crime lead to criminal actions on the part of the victim. The consequences of giving in to such temptation are generally far worse than the advantages sought.
Obviously, these restrictions put a huge practical and visceral limitation on the victim going after the criminal. Seeking the support of local authorities can also be utilised for the benefit of the victim, so engaging in unlawful practices on the part of the victim seeking recovery will jeopardise this critical support.