Economic or Sign of the Times?

Bankruptcy filings have been declining since the beginning of 2011, but for the third time in the past 90 days, I have had a cashier try to short change me. This has never happened to me in the last 64 years. Was it an accident, a sign of the times or a result of our poor economy? 

Cash strapped businesses are hiring desperate minimum wage employees. Could these employees be attempting to increase their pocket change by stealing from me? For example, the other day a cashier took my $20 and neatly placed it on the cash register. The bill was $2.07, and I handed her a dime for the 7 cents. She rang up the order and handed me back 3 cents and thanked me. 

“I gave you a $20 bill plus a dime,” I objected. She replied, “Oh, that is right,” as she quickly lifted the $20 bill from its hiding place (right by the cash register drawer). Was it a inadvertent mistake? I probably would have thought so, if she had not smiled. I understand common mistakes, but I told her if it happened to me the next time I came in, I would have to report her to her manager. She did not say a word and she did not seem disturbed about what she had done. 

This year I have medical problems, two major operations and two heart attacks. I did not work for 18 months, and my savings evaporated. It is hard to make a living wage, and I can understand the temptation to cheat others. I hope I never would, but in a desperate situation, you never know. 

Are some Americans so desperate they are willing to steal extra money from their customers and risk not only their jobs, but breaking the law? Maybe so, not surprisingly, individuals who are willing to cheat the government are on the rise. The bankruptcy system has seen an increase in bankruptcy filers attempting to commit fraud, causing the US Bankruptcy Courts to increase their investigative efforts to identify the offenders. 

Recently a wife and husband from Iowa were sentenced to two and four years respectively in federal prison for defrauding a US Bankruptcy Court in Florida. The couple sold assets to their family in Iowa, moved to Florida, and filed for bankruptcy. Florida bankruptcy laws allowed the couple more favorable bankruptcy exemptions. When they returned to Iowa, they retrieved their assets from their family. 

Bankruptcy fraud is a crime. Common criminal actions under bankruptcy laws which may be illegal include: concealment of assets, concealment or destruction of documents, conflicts of interest, fraudulent claims, false statements or declarations, and fee fixing. Falsifying bankruptcy forms is also considered perjury and is illegal. Although the new bankruptcy laws are more favorable for the debtor, they were not intended to allow criminals to defraud the bankruptcy system. Filing for bankruptcy allows the debtor to start over. When you try to hide assets from the bankruptcy process, it is cheating 

If you are in a desperate financial situation, do not resort to stealing and other types of unethical behaviors. Do not do what the cashier did. Take advantage of the bankruptcy process which can allow you to start over and have a fresh financial start. 

If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, you may need to consult with a bankruptcy lawyer. Debts can cause stress and bankruptcy laws can be complicated. If you live in or around the metropolitan areas of Buffalo or Niagara Falls, New York, contact us at . We will help you find a bankruptcy attorney in your who can answer your bankruptcy questions.

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