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Shell companies and fraud: An investigative primer

May 21, 2013

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In a Reuters' special report, Carr explained the difference between shell and shelf companies.

The free investigative webinar, “Shell Companies and Fraud: An Investigative Primer,” was first offered on May 21, 2013. A similar conference session was offered at the 2013 IRE Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

Check out materials from both sessions below.

Unraveling financial schemes often involves tracing a myriad of corporations incorporated across the country and sometimes around the world.

Corporate entities called shells – companies with no significant assets or operations – and the people involved with them are often at the center of plots ranging from bogus investment firms to money-laundering endeavors to pump-and-dump stock scams.

The self-guided training from this webinar will help you understand the characteristics of shell companies, their legitimate and illegitimate purposes in the business sector, and methods for backgrounding and connecting intricate webs of firms and individuals scattered around the globe.


  • The basics: what shell companies are, why they exist and the legitimate and illegitimate uses for these entities.
  • How shell companies play a role in global corruption and how to begin track those schemes locally.
  • Tactics for backgrounding shell companies through state incorporation documents, other public records and various online tools.


Kelly Carr joined the Reynolds Center in 2007 after working as a journalist for multiple publications, including The Arizona Republic. She is the center’s senior online producer. As a freelance investigative reporter for Reuters, she won the a 2012 Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism for a series detailing the use of U.S. shell and shelf companies.

The series also won the National Press Club Award for Consumer Journalism (Periodicals), the New York Press Club Business Reporting Award and the 2011 Foreign Press Association Media Award for Financial/Economic Reporting.

Carr was an adjunct journalism professor at Arizona State University’s Cronkite School, a fellow at The Poynter Institute and a contributing writer for Cancer Stories: Lessons in Love, Loss & Hope.


Review the session materials below to discover new local business angles and investigative techniques.

PowerPoint presentation


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