Wife Steals Identity and Retirement Account from Husband in Bankruptcy Scam

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A bankruptcy scam like this has never been seen by Veteran financial fraud investigators. An Indiana woman, while still married, managed to steal her husband identity and liquidate his 401(k) among other assets.

“This was certainly a unique case,” Special Agent Doug Kaspe, said. He supervised the investigation from the FBI’s Indianapolis Division. Patricia Bippus-Allen, 58, was sentenced to five years in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit bankruptcy fraud, subornation of perjury, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft, in in July. Though, it is still not certain to investigators what her motive was or what she did with the money.

However, it is certain that Bippus- Allen developed a an extravagant plan of bankruptcy fraud in order to get access to her husband’s wages by making several withdraws from his 401(k) retirement account. Bippus-Allen did not act alone, she enlisted the help of her brother, who would pretend to be her husband.

Bippus-Allen filed for joint Chapter 13 bankruptcy, in September of 2010 on behalf of her and her husband in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Indiana. Her husband of over 25 years, however, did not know what she had done.

One of the investigators, Special Agent Paul Medernach said, “He trusted his wife to handle all the family finances. He never used a computer, and never saw his pay stub because his check went into his bank account through direct deposit.”

During the bankruptcy proceedings, Bippus-Allen would forge her husband’s signature on important documents and she also provide an alibi as to why her husband couldn’t attend all the preceding meetings. On one occasion, she created a doctor’s note stating that her husband was hospitalized for 30 days and under his supervision and that during this time he was unable to see visitors and take phone calls.

“That was all a lie,” said Medernach. “She faked the letter and the doctor’s signature. Her husband had never been under the doctor’s care.”

Her brother’s involvement was a result of her husband’s presence being required at a meeting with creditors in March 2011. Bippus-Allen convinced her brother, David Bippus, to pretend he was her husband and under oath he swore to be her husband. This confirmed the bankruptcy and established monthly payments to Bippus-Allen’s trustee for 60 months. Her husband had no knowledge that $74,000 was being deducted from his direct deposits and that Bippus-Allen had gained access to his account.

At the same time, Bippus- Allen was transferring money into her personal accounts from her husband’s 401(k) account. She was able to transfer money several times by pretending to be her husband with false documentation. The unauthorized withdrawals totaled $24,000 or more, that’s not including the $16,000 in loans from her husband’s 401(k), that she withdrew from her unknowing husband’s consent.

Medernach mentioned that it was not that shocking to see an angered wife or husband steal money form a spouse. “But not many spouses would go to these lengths—to find someone to impersonate a spouse and to forge documents like doctor’s notes and a driver’s license.”

The scam might have continued to work for Bippus-Allen, if not for a fortunate coincidence for her husband. A relative of her husband worked as a paralegal for an Indiana bankruptcy attorney and recognized his name on the court’s docket. The relative questioned the husband and when he was not aware of the bankruptcy she proceeded to call law enforcement.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office and FBI Investigators worked very close to undo the web of fraud and serve charges to Bippus-Allen and her brother. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office was eager to prosecute this case because it sends a clear message,” Kasper said. “For husbands or wives who might have similar ideas about defrauding their spouses, they should know there are serious penalties for such actions.”

 

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