Posted on April 17, 2010
Virtual Bankruptcy Assistants (VBA’s) do a lot of things for the attorneys that they work for, not the least of which, is helping to protect them.
This could be something as simple as protecting them from deficiency notices by just doing a good job on the petitions prepared for him/her.
Taking this a step further, what about helping to protect your attorney from potentially fraudulent debtors that may have something to hide?
Recently I was working on a petition for an attorney where only the husband was filing a Chapter 7.
The debtor had a fairly unique name, and so I decided to do a Google search on his name.
As I perused the Google results, I came across something interesting…the debtor was listed as being a member of a yacht club, and was the owner of a 28’ yacht. It even listed the name of the yacht.
“Hmm”, I thought; “That boat isn’t listed on the client intake form”.
Before you read on, think for a moment about what you would do. Here is what I did…
First, I printed the web page showing the yacht information to a PDF file, and saved it in a folder called “Due Diligence” in the debtors folder on my computer.
Next, I called the debtor’s wife, who was my designated contact for getting information about the case.
I asked the debtor’s wife “Do you have a boat that needs to be listed on the documents for your bankruptcy?”. She immediately responded and said “The boat is in my name”.
Since the debtor’s wife was not filing bankruptcy with the husband, I said “OK”, thanked her, and hung up.
I then made a note of this in the attorney cover page that I gave to the attorney along with the petition when it was completed.
The petition was filed with the court, and the day of the 341 meeting came, and I received a phone call from the attorney, who seemed somewhat excited. He told me that he had just left the 341 meeting for this debtor, and relayed the unexpected outcome.
The attorney had printed out the debtors information to take with him to the 341, and when sitting with his client across from the trustee, he was well prepared as he answered questions, and went through his notes.
At one point the trustee was asking for information about the debtors mortgage, and when the attorney pulled the mortgage papers out of the folder to respond, there was another piece of paper stuck to the bottom of them that fell out onto the table. This piece of paper showed a picture of a beautiful boat.
The trustee having seen this happen said “Let me see that”, and the attorney handed it over.
The trustee looked over the printed information about the boat (which was a printout of the PDF about the boat I had emailed the attorney with the petition) and asked “What is this?” This is when the debtor began to squirm in his seat.
The trustee then asked “Do you have a boat?”, to which the debtor responded by saying “I sold it 3 years ago”.
The trustee then told the debtor to provide evidence of the sale, then moved on, and wrapped up the 341 meeting.
After the 341, the debtor’s wife approached the attorney and was visibly upset. This is when the attorney described getting different versions of what happened to the boat.
The attorney was a bit distraught by the situation, and wasn’t sure what was going to happen next.
What I then told the attorney was that it was a good thing that this happened, because if it turned out that the debtors were trying to hide the boat, that it was obvious that he wasn’t aware of it. He agreed.
This case is still open, so it isn’t known what the outcome is going to be, but one thing is certain, the job of a Virtual Bankruptcy Assistant is not simply data entry, but rather, it is our job to accurately represent the client’s information in the petitions we prepare for our attorneys, and to do the necessary due diligence that backs up that data to help protect the attorney’s interests.
DISCLAIMER: We at 713 Training are not attorneys; any information provided by 713 Training should not be considered legal advice. The information in this article, and any other materials provided by 713 Training, whether delivered verbally, written or via any other means, including electronic/digital delivery and storage, is for training purposes only, and is intended for individuals who work under the direction of a licensed attorney.