As Bankruptcy Debtors Tend to Try to Hide Assets, Sometimes Ineptly, Prosecutions are On the Rise

  • United States
  • 02/17/2011
  • Martha Neil - American Bar Association

Debtors who file for bankruptcy are supposed to disclose their assets.

But many don’t, and as bankruptcies rise nailing those who violate the rules is becoming an increasing priority for prosecutors, according to the St. Petersburg Times.

Discovering hidden assets, of course, can be a challenge. However, sometimes debtors make the process easy.

Traci Stevenson, a Chapter 7 bankruptcy trustee in Pinellas County, Fla., didn’t push one couple hard about their personal property, even though they lived in a waterfront home, because they planned to give it up.

“The next day in the St. Pete Times, there they were in the food section because they had a personal chef,” she tells the newspaper. “You could see the granite countertops. I said, ‘OK, let’s send out an appraiser and re-evaluate everything.’ ‘’

Another Florida man who forgot to list an account of over $35,000 wound up being prosecuted. He awaits sentencing in April for knowingly making false statements.

Although every case can’t be thoroughly probed by private investigators, officials say they hope such cases send a message to those tempted to try to hide what they have.