The super-rich flaunt their wealth on social media, making them easy targets for financial investigators and fraudsters


The super-rich often say they’re broke when courts rule against them for big financial claims, but then their posts to Instagram and other social media give them away. They’ll post pictures of themselves with yachts and private jets. Moreover, investigators check the location metadata on posts to track down real estate assets.

And fraudsters are getting into the act, compromising email accounts and sending fake invoices for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

[The] rich kids of Instagram are, often unwittingly, revealing their parents’ hidden assets and covert business dealings, providing evidence for investigators to freeze or seize assets worth tens of millions of pounds, and for criminals to defraud their families.

Leading cybersecurity firms said they were using evidence from social media in up to 75% of their litigation cases, ranging from billionaire divorces to asset disputes between oligarchs, with the online activity of super-rich heirs frequently providing the means to bypass their family’s security.

Oisín Fouere, managing director of K2 Intelligence in London, said social media was increasingly their “first port of call”. Their opponent in one asset recovery case claimed to have no significant valuables – until investigators found a social media post by one of his children that revealed they were on his $25m yacht in the Bahamas.

Daniel Hall, director of global judgment enforcement at Burford Capital, said their targets in such cases tended to be people “of a slightly older vintage” who were not prodigious users of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, but whose children, employees and associates often were. The firm recently managed to seize a “newly acquired private jet” in a fraud case because one of the two fraudsters had a son in his 30s who posted a photograph on Instagram of himself and his father standing in front of the plane.

“That’s the kind of jackpot scenario one hopes for,” said Hall.

The growing significance of social media in litigation was recently illustrated by rapper 50 Cent, who was ordered by a Connecticut court last month to explain a photo on Instagram in which he posed with stacks of $100 bills that spelled out “broke”, months after filing for bankruptcy. The rapper claimed the money was fake.

Yachts, jets and stacks of cash: super-rich discover risks of Instagram snaps [David Batty – The Guardian]

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