“Asset hunting” is a special job in bankruptcy cases. When an asset hunter is assigned to a debtor’s case, it’s their job to uncover any discrepancies in their financial situation and report them to the Bankruptcy Trustee. So if you file for bankruptcy and then post a photo on Facebook of yourself with brand new purchases, like a vehicle, or a boat, an asset hunter is going to find out. It’s their job!
Just take a look at rapper Curtis Jackson III, better known as 50 Cent, who filed for bankruptcy ins 2015. Jackson continued to post photos to his social media accounts, most notably Instagram, showing displays of wealth that had gone undisclosed in his bankruptcy filing. The photo at right is a good example. This was great promotion for Jackson’s brand – not so much for his case. 50 Cent felt like he had to keep up the appearance of being wealthy to remain a successful rap artist. After closer inspection, asset hunters discovered that all of the cash was fake. Yep. That’s fake cash in that picture.
It’s not uncommon for celebrities to create an illusion of wealth as a means of self-promotion, but thanks to social media and television, some celebrities are guilty of more than just putting on a good show (pun intended) and have failed to disclose funds and assets in legal proceedings. That is not such a good show.
A channel-surfing bankruptcy judge recognized “Dance Moms” reality TV personality Abby Lee Miller as someone whose case he was handling. This, which led him to wonder if Miller had disclosed the income she received from the show. Turns out, she hadn’t! Miller was found guilty of not disclosing $288,137.57 worth of assets.
After TV personality Todd Chrisley bragged during an episode of Chrisley Knows Best that he spends more than $300,000 a year on clothing, his assigned Bankruptcy Trustee Jason Pettie filed a motion to inspect the home. While Mr. Pettie notes that Chrisley’s show producers often stage Mr. Chrisley’s estate with loaned furniture and decor, the inspection did uncover that Chrisley had failed to disclose a large collection of designer clothing and a set of Hartmann luggage.
Now, these are all high profile celebrities who are under much more scrutiny than your average bankruptcy filer. But it goes to show the impact that social media can have on your case. If it exists on the internet, it will likely be discovered.
Conclusion & Next Steps
Of course, prevention is the best cure, so when you’re facing bankruptcy proceedings, be DISCREET on social media! They are going to check you out. And really, you shouldn’t be hiding assets in the first place! That can get you into a lot of legal trouble beyond your bankruptcy situation.
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