Victim of Identity Theft Uses Chapter 7 Bankruptcy to Put Financial Mess Behind Him
We recently filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case for an individual who was victimized in the largest mortgage fraud and ID theft scheme in Nassau County’s history.
Nassau County’s investigation, dubbed “Operation: Sweet Deal,” involved more than 45 independent acts of fraud. District Attorney Kathleen Rice indicted 17 people in March 2011 for charges ranging from enterprise corruption and first-degree grand larceny to money laundering, identity theft and conspiracy.
As our client’s recent Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing illustrate, the ripple effects continue.
The masterminds, James Robert Sweet, 43, and Dwayne Benjamin, 44, both of Westbury, New York, lined up straw buyers, some of whom were duped, to buy homes in foreclosure claiming that such purchases would be a good investment opportunity. However, the scheme involved purchasing the properties at a higher price than what the seller was asking.
Sweet Deal underhandedly arranged to keep the difference as part of the scam. In addition, they told the new purchasers that they would rent out the properties, collect rent from tenants, and make the mortgage payments; yet they intentionally did not make any payments. Sweet Deal thus walked away with the profits, stole the equity in the properties, left the purchasers in the lurch.
How Our Client Was Duped
Our client was just one of those purchasers who was deceived into getting involved with the venture. Unbeknownst to our client, after purchasing one property, Sweet Deal purchased a second and third property in our client’s name by using an impersonator. Our client only found out someone purchased these other properties in his name after the lenders got in touch with him, saying that he was delinquent.
After our client cooperated with investigations by the Nassau County District Attorney and the FBI, he contacted my Long Island bankruptcy law firm to see what would be the easiest way to resolve the financial mess he was now in.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Provided an Easy Way Out
Considering that he was now facing foreclosures on three properties, and also had other debt, we recommended Chapter 7 bankruptcy as a way to easily discharge his obligations (even if some of them he didn’t intentionally enter into) and get a fresh, new financial start.
We filed his case a number of weeks ago and recently represented him at his meeting of creditors in Bankruptcy Court where the trustee examined him and closed his case. We anticipate that our client will receive his Chapter 7 discharge shortly, meaning that this financial nightmare will become history.
Although there are many ways to resolve situations where an innocent consumer incurs debt as a result of identity theft, sometimes a simple bankruptcy filing is the best option, although getting the advice of an experienced bankruptcy attorney would be most important in making such a decision.
Incidentally, the perpetrators of the fraud pleaded guilty to a variety of felony charges and are currently in prison.