Shelf corporations used for fraud
A shelf corporation is a paper or shell corporation that is administratively formed and then "put on a shelf" for several years to age. A shelf corporation doesn't engage in any real business, but during the aging period some efforts may be undertaken to establish a credit history, file basic tax returns, open a business bank account, and other simple actions to demonstrate some activity.
Shelf corporations are legal and do have legitimate purposes. They are frequently used for holding personal or business assets. Another common purpose for the creation of a shelf corporation is as a turn-key business package that can later be sold to someone who wants to start and operate a company without going through the effort to form a new one; or, sold to and used by someone who may not otherwise qualify for a bank loan, line of credit, or government contract because they or their existing company do not have the required credit scores or a two to five year established business history. By purchasing a shelf corporation, an entrepreneur now instantly owns an established company that has been "in business" for several years without debts or liabilities.
Criminals can also create, purchase, and use shelf corporations. In some cases, they may use one with a name similar to a targeted legitimate company in order to specifically impersonate that company and deceive creditors or suppliers. In other cases, they may use a shelf corporation, or a series of shelf corporations, to appear to be a well established, legitimate business in order to defraud other businesses, lenders, or financial institutions.