Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Social media, being smart, and looking for fraud in Bucks County bankruptcy

I went to the 18th Annual Bankruptcy Institute in Philadelphia.  It is the main conference bankruptcy practitioners go to every year.  Yes, it is perhaps the most boring conference possible for 99% of the population.

But, I love the conference.  This year, the ethics panel discussed social media.  One particular item of interest was how social media can "catch" fraud and false pretense.  One of the U.S. Trustees told a story about how MySpace (back when it was popular) showed a debtor had a side business that was not listed on their petition.  At the 341 hearing, the debtor lied under oath when directly asked about additional businesses.  The Trustee informed the crowd that the person served jail over the fraud.

I recently have begun to use Google and Facebook to double check certain issues with clients.  So far, it has afforded me the opportunity to turn down a Bucks County bankruptcy client based upon issues I found online.  Obviously, I'm keeping the reasons vague for attorney-client confidentiality.  

Could the bankruptcy have gone smoothly?  Possibly.  But, I was reluctant to believe the potential client based upon the voluminous information I discovered.

It wasn't worth it for me as an attorney.  It could have been a major problem and one that possibly could have tarnished my reputation.

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