Scope of invisibility of a public web based business
I've become a big fan of HTBI since picking it up a few months back. I've been building a next gen web directory in a topic space that has some big players. I am also currently having my house foreclosed on and have an attorney fighting this action on my behalf.
Though I eventually want to become as invisible as possible, the current scope of my needs is to maintain invisibility of this web business from two groups, a potentially vindictive bank seeking to dig up bank accounts and chase money, and any potential online competitor who might attempt to 'kill the baby in the crib' or just cause trouble with my web business.
(BTW, I have just mailed in payment for most of your other books, Invisible Money, Skip College, and the Nominee book, among others, so once I have read these books and applied their teachings to my case, I may get a better idea of what I need to do.)
Meanwhile I do have a few questions as I am working through developing my strategy.
- I understand I will need to figure out how to register the domain and web host under a ghost address and alternate name, possibly your CI address dedicated to web hosting. I was also intending to wrap the business in a NM LLC. I read on this site that to maintain anonymous web hosting I would need to have a nominee. I am trying to avoid having to get a nominee, which leads to my first question.
1. This might be a silly musing, but is it possible for someone to bluff through this? Meaning, I would use my real name, claim I only know the person who owns it by a name they gave to me, by which a search on this name turns out to be a dead end? Since the privacy issues I intend to maintain are to avert potential filings of lawsuits and I would otherwise maintain a ghost address, might this bluff work? I imagine some attorney or PI hellbent on getting to the bottom of ownership might make life difficult for me, so maybe using initials or a strategic misspelling of my name, or using my first and middle name?
- In the same vein, since I intend to go the NM LLC route, I understand that the agent of my LLC in NM would need a ghost address from me so papers could be forwarded.
2. As this address remains private, is it possible a court order might force the hand of the LLC agent to reveal the ghost address, thus allowing papers to be potentially served to me? Does it make more sense to wrap the NM LLC in a foreign LLC, which makes any lawsuits even more difficult to file?
- I would make money from this site ultimately (ideally) through ad revenue and supporter donations, and later with ebook sales. Whether I go with Paypal or Google Checkout, I would again try to avoid using a nominee. Someone suggested getting a Paypal business account, which they said allows the account to be associated only with the business name. On my end, I would either use my existing bank account, or maybe open a new account in a small bank, or even a Canadian account, which of course takes a bit more effort.
3. I owe my family money and my first intent with this business was to pay them off. Would it be an issue to just forward Paypal payments directly into a family account? Would this raise red flags? Were I to forward the money to my personal account, my intent was to keep a few thousand dollars in this account and to remove it as needed and stash it to maintain this low level. If an attorney or PI finds this bank account, can they track the cash flow volume or do they only see the bottom line balance? Of course, no attorney would sue someone if they only thought the person had a few thousand dollars in their bank account. Also, were my bank account uncovered and tracked back to me, I could always claim to be employed by this company were it to come to that point.
4. You wrote a while back that it is preferable to have the LLC in one's home state (Texas) if I were to need to sue someone. How does this work when it comes to maintaining anonymity?
5. Finally, I am developing quite a number of new business methods for my site that are novel for the topic space I am working in. I intend to file for patents to protect this intellectual property. How does this potentially impact my ability to maintain business anonymity? I imagine companies all the time have patent agreements with others, so this does not seem like it would be a problem, but I would like to hear your opinion on this.
I look forward to getting your other ebooks, which might help me flesh out my strategy here. I apologize if some of these questions seem dumb.
JJ Luna Responds:
There is no need for showing an ID. You might also want Plan Z, to help with the principal place of business. (I am not sure you need an LLC this early in the game.)
Other readers may wish to help with one or more of your other questions.