The consequences of hiding assets both real and imagined

Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter provide an intimate look into friends, family and the famous. Posts and pictures reveal children playing, meals about to be eaten, and possessions recently purchased.

Those same websites have become sources of much-needed information for attorneys and accountants serving as bankruptcy trustees.

Lifestyles Of The Not-So-Rich And Famous

Like many rap music performers, Curtis Jackson III, better known by his nom de plume “50 Cent,” loves to show off his largess to his countless followers. A recent picture of Jackson posing with stacks of thousands of dollars in cash got the attention of Ann Nevins, “Fiddy’s” bankruptcy judge.

What Jackson referred to as “buckets of cash” on his social media account was not listed in his bankruptcy disclosures. Nevins ordered him to appear before her. Jackson was forced to confess that the cash was as valuable as Monopoly money.

Trustees Hot On The Trail Of Bankruptcy Fraud

Court-appointed trustees who function as the industry’s detectives are finding that social media is a wealth of faux wealth. What seems to be acts of fraud are actually bankruptcy filers posing with jewelry that is often fake and ATVs and yachts that belong to someone else.

While claiming that hidden assets are uncommon, trustees do have their “gotcha” moments from time to time.

In his August 2010 bankruptcy filing, Gregory Sipe listed “several collectible guitars” valued at $10,000. After receiving a tip, a North Carolina bankruptcy trustee discovered an online article on Sipes’ collection of 250 vintage guitars that later sold for $900,000.

Sipe was convicted of falsifying court records and sentenced to five months of house arrest and $1,900 in fines.

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