A Jail Cell For A Debtor Who Went Too Far

In 2005 the credit card companies finally aligned all the stars to get BAPCPA passed: the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act. Although BAPCPA has been roundly – and soundly – condemned as mucking up a perfectly good bankruptcy code, symbolically it rang true to the tone that most Americans believed: debtors simply had too much power, and creditors were paying the price.

Recently a North Carolina bankruptcy court helped a lender strike back against a debtor who had played every trick in the book to avoid a commercial foreclosure, and then found a few tricks not in the book. As detailed in this Forbes article, Nick Stratas said he wouldn’t interfere with his bank’s foreclosure sale and then did interfere. His claim? The auctioneer mumbled too much during the sale, so Stratas couldn’t compete with his lender by making phony bids to drive up the price of the sale.

Perhaps before BAPCPA the bankruptcy judge would have slapped him on the wrist with harsh words and a reprimand, but not now: the judge threw Stratas in jail until the lender could complete the sale and Nick paid the bank $10,000 for their trouble.

This judge got it right. Honest debtors are entitled to a fresh start and protection from their creditors. That’s what the bankruptcy laws are all about. They’re not to provide a playground for con artists trying to wing their way through on court delays and legal technicalities.


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