Virginia Man Fakes Death to Avoid Losing Assets in Bankruptcy
Some people will do anything to avoid bankruptcy court—including faking their own death. Complex has an interesting article about the lengths one Virginia man took to avoid losing assets during his bankruptcy. The schemes used certainly go above and beyond what most people are willing to do. However, this story serves as a definite warning to be as honest as possible when filing for bankruptcy protection, otherwise you could be prosecuted for fraud.
Fake Diseases & Identity Theft
Russell Geyer, 50 years old, had a problem: he wanted to shield his assets in bankruptcy. When filing for Chapter 7, of course, a debtor can lose non-exempt assets in exchange for having qualifying debts eliminated. Apparently, Mr. Geyer didn’t like this trade-off, so he went to great lengths to preserve his assets. Among the tactics that Russell Geyer used to defraud the court were:
- Lying that he had prostate cancer, bone cancer, pneumonia, and a brain aneurysm, among other medical conditions.
- Assuming his wife’s identity to send an email to his lawyer claiming he had died.
- Impersonating a lawyer and claiming that this lawyer had sold some of Mr. Geyer’s assets after filing for bankruptcy and had even encouraged him to kill himself. Ultimately, Mr. Geyer ended up using an app to try and disguise his voice as part of the fraud.
- Lying to his wife and obtaining $70,000, allegedly to pay off the attorney whose identity he had stolen.
These were only some of the tactics that Mr. Geyer used, which resulted in multiple federal counts against him. He pleaded guilty to one count of bankruptcy fraud, one count of aggravated identify fraud, one count of wire fraud, and one count of contempt of court. Although he has yet to be sentenced, he could face up to life in prison for all his fraudulent schemes.
Why Honesty is the Best Policy
With bankruptcies expected to surge in the coming months, we anticipate bankruptcy trustees will closely scrutinize filings for signs of fraud. Consequently, filers should be especially careful to fully document all of their assets and liabilities in the schedules that they file.
Ideally, you will have an attorney help you. Your lawyer understands what assets you must report (such as inheritances you are about to receive or personal injury lawsuits you can bring). Your lawyer can also help you find all the debts you must report.
Fraud also includes improper transfers of assets before filing for bankruptcy. For example, you cannot protect your car by signing it over to your sister the week before you file for Chapter 7 protection. Your lawyer will help you understand what steps to avoid taking.
Schedule Your Free Consultation Today
At Nowack & Olson PLLC, our Plantation bankruptcy attorneys make sure that our clients file for bankruptcy the correct way, disclosing all information accurately. We can streamline your case for you, providing peace of mind during the process. For help with your case, please contact us today. We will talk with you for a free consultation to identify the best path forward.