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When a Rolex reappears

The circular face glows in 18 karat gold, and is always surrounded by diamonds. It's the face of the Rolex ladies Presidential watch. You can find a used one online for as much as $40,000 or so, or as little as about $5,000. The glittering statements of wealth are instantly noticeable, which is why bankruptcy officials spotted one adorning the wrist of a doctor's wife.

When the dazzling timepiece suddenly disappeared, that, too was noticeable. The doctor who had declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy asked his wife where her -- ahem -- Swiss Army watch had gone to. She began to sob and pulled the Rolex out of a pocket. The truth sparkled then: the couple was hiding valuable assets in their bankruptcy case.

While this example of bankruptcy fraud took place far from us in Ohio, it's an example of the type of activities that sometimes take place in bankruptcies. The Florida doctor and wife admitted hiding other assets as well, including artwork and much more jewelry.

According to a newspaper article, they claimed to have pawned $120,000 worth of jewelry, though they had no receipts and the pawnbroker had no records of the claimed transactions.

After much hard work by the bankruptcy trustee, the attorney who assisted her, and the court, the judge threw out the couple's request for bankruptcy protection. Their debt of $2.9 million is still due to be paid to their creditors.

This is how the system can work for creditors who have helped people buy homes, cars, watches, furniture, vacations and all the rest of what people want. When creditors make use of experienced attorneys skilled in protecting creditors' rights and interests, a bankruptcy court can be persuaded to do the right thing.

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