Thanks for giving me the go-ahead on this difficult question. It's
always a challenge trying to track down something or someone that
doesn't wish to be found, and it's made even more so by not having the
name(s) and other relevant information on which to search.
Here then, are some of the key sources of information I would suggest
for you in your question. They are detailed below.
Before rating this answer, please let me know if any of the
information I've presented is unclear, or if you need additional
information. Just post a Request for Clarification, and I'll be happy
to help you further.
Best of luck....
The first stop would be the Orange County Clerk-Recorder name-search
website for conducting a Grantor/Grantee search of those involved in
recordable real estate transactions:
Although the form here is fairly straightforward, let's step through a
few of the details:
If the person you are searching for has a fairly common last name,
then enter both a first name and last name to narrow down your search
(or at least a surname and first few letters of the first name). If
the surname is uncommon, then just a surname search alone should do
Enter a range of dates that you want to include in the search -- the
database is a few days behind the real calendar, so you won't be able
to search up until the current date.
Set the number of records to at least 100, unless you're on a
If you're lucky, this will produce a "hit" for you. If it does, you
might want to retrieve a copy of the actual document (see
If it doesn't, then you might want to try one of the following options
in the same Grantor/Grantee search system:
--You can search by business name at:
--You can search all documents recorded on a given date at:
If these searches produce any results, and you want to get a copy of
the document, then you have to contact the Clerk-Recorder's office
(some counties make these types of documents available on-line, but
Orange County is apparently not one of them). Follow the instructions
for getting copies of documents as give here:
Obtaining Official Record Copies
To obtain copies of recorded real property documents, you may do so by
coming into the office or sending your request by mail.
Documents are identified by the names of the grantors and/or grantees
as they appear on the document and the recording date. If the document
was recorded prior to 1982, you may reference the book, page and
instrument number if available. If the document was recorded in 1982
or later, refer to the instrument number which consists of the
recording year followed by a six digit number.
The fees for obtaining copies are $1.00 for the first page plus $1.00
for each additional page per document. The fees for copies of maps are
$1.00 for the first page plus $1.00 for each additional page per map.
The fee for certification is an additional $1.00 for each document or
If you are sending the copy request by mail and are not certain what
the exact copy fees are, you may leave the dollar amount blank on the
check and write a limiting phrase below the line. Example - not to
exceed $20.00. The clerk processing your order will complete the check
and return a receipt indicating the exact amount.
Make checks payable to, Tom Daly, Orange County Clerk-Recorder. Mail
the copy request to: Orange County Clerk-Recorder, Attn..: Copy Desk,
P.O. Box 238, Santa Ana, CA 92702-0238.
If you have any questions regarding the ordering of official record
copies, please call (714) 834-2461.
You mentioned that you were familiar with the Fictitious Business Name
searches in Orange County, but for the sake of compelteness, here is
that search site as well:
The search strategy is the same as above: search first using the last
name (and some/all of the first name if you so choose), and then
conduct a separate search using the surname in the "Business Name"
box. Also search on any Business Names you may suspect are in use by
the party in question.
Searches for the names of corporations, limited liability companies,
and limited partnerships can be made at the California Secretary of
State's website, here:
There's a bit of a catch-22 here, as you have to know the name of the
company in order to search on it. However, many LLC and LP's use an
individual person's name as the name of the company, so search
creatively based on the information you have at your disposal, and see
if anything pops up.
If none of these provide any useful results, then it may be time to
give LexisNexis a try. This is a powerful search system, but be
warned -- it is not an easy site to navigate or use. If you run into
problems here, let me know, and I'll help to walk you through it.
First, head to their main page at:
and on the right-hand side of the page, you'll see a hyperlink for
"Not a Subscriber". Click on this, and the system will take you
through its registration process (you'll need you credit card of
course). Note that there is no charge for *searching* the LexisNexis
databases. They only charge you if you find a record that you want a
full copy of.
By the way, I always use the "Pay As You Go" option, but if you find
your retrieving tons of documents, you may want to consider the daily
or weekly sign-ups.
Finally, you'll get to the "search page" where you are given an option
to search a variety of topical databases. The main databases of
interest to you are those under the heading of "Public Records".
However, you can also search California newspaper under the "News"
heading, and California lawsuits from various courts under the "State
Legal -US" heading.
Under the "Public Records" header, you'll find subsets of databases for:
-- UCC Filings
I suggest you search UCC Filings first for California, as UCC filings
are espeically common for newly-formed businesses. After the UCC
search, then search the others (in no particular order) to see what
Search on the name of the person you're interested in, using the
LexisNexis search protocol. For instance, to search on the name
George Bush, enter the following in the search box:
george w/2 bush
This will find records with:
George W Bush
and so on...
Do the same for other databases, and see what pops up.
The LexisNexis data sets are very comprehensive and, like I said
earlier, not the easiest to use. If the Orange County searches didn't
bear fruit, then by all means, give LexisNexis a patient try. And if
you run into any problems or question, just give me a holler and I'll
do my best to help you out.
Again, best of luck...