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The grand opening of Target Canada was set to begin in one month, and Tony Fisher needed to know whether the company was actually ready. In February 2013, about a dozen senior-level employees gathered at the company’s Mississauga, Ont., headquarters to offer updates on the state of their departments. Fisher, Target Canada’s president, was holding these meetings every day as the launch date crept closer. The news was rarely good.

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Thousands of boats are stolen each year, and some are recovered using alcohol, prostitutes, witch doctors and other forms of guile. In Greece, Max Hardberger posed as an interested buyer, in Haiti as a port official, in Trinidad, a shipper. He has plied guards with booze and distracted them with prostitutes; spooked port police officers with witch doctors and duped night watchmen into leaving their posts. His goal: to get on board a vessel he is trying to retrieve and race toward the 12-mile line where the high seas begin and local jurisdiction ends.

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Terrence Taylor suffered severe burns as a child and reached a settlement with a space-heater manufacturer that had a lifetime expected payout of $31.5 million, but after numerous sales from his structured settlement at a fraction of the value, he is broke.

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