Interesting report from Reuters:
A Reuters investigation has found the house at 2710 Thomes Avenue serves as a little Cayman Island on the Great Plains. It is the headquarters for Wyoming Corporate Services, a business-incorporation specialist that establishes firms which can be used as "shell" companies, paper entities able to hide assets.
More than 2000 corporations are registered at that address in Cheyenne, a "1,700-square-foot brick house with a manicured lawn."
The whole report is worth reading.
Most of it shouldn't really come as a shock, but the use of "shelf companies" was news to me:
Among its offerings is a variety of shell known as a "shelf" company, which comes with years of regulatory filings behind it, lending a greater feeling of solidity.
I hadn't heard of this, but it makes sense. In a world full of fly-by-night operations, the appearance of permanence is a hot commodity.
It's really not unlike the creation of "sleeper" accounts to troll sites like this, or Wikipedia: anyone can create an account, but the real value is in having an account that already has a solid track-record in the community. The use of existing companies to conceal new scams is at least as old as the "bust-out joint", but it's surprising to see it done in a way that is systematic, brazen and apparently legal.
Wyoming Corporate Services' website is here: http://wyomingcompany.com/ , and has not yet been scrubbed. Then again, why would they scrub it?
Here's the pitch:
Roughly a million corporations are formed each year and the number is growing every year. Why? Because a corporation is a legal person created by state statute that can be used as a fall guy, a servant, a good friend or a decoy. A person you control... yet cannot be held accountable for its actions.
Gee, that does sound like a good deal. Let's all incorporate!
On "aged shelf" companies:
These are companies that we formed and put on the shelf. They come with Certificates Of Good Standing from the state, Certified Articles of Incorporation from the state, the corporate kit which includes 20 pre-printed stock certificates, corporate seal, suggested meetings minutes and one year of Registered Agent Services. All state fees are paid through the renewal date of the company. If you need other services see our other services here.
These companies can be registered in any other state as a foreign company doing business in that state, if you need an aged company in your home state.
They have "native" corporations for sale in 36 other states as well.