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Area Man Admits To Elaborate Years-Long Bankruptcy Fraud

U.S. Federal Court in Hartford.
U.S. Federal Court in Hartford. Photo Credit: File

A Connecticut man has admitted to his role in an elaborate scheme to defraud a woman out of more than $200,000 as part of a bankruptcy fraud scam.

Wallingford resident Joel Riley, 47, pleaded guilty in Hartford federal court to one count of bankruptcy fraud for his role in the scheme that lasted for several years.

Between April 2015 and July the following year, Riley fraudulently applied for and obtained loans and lines of credit in the name of his victim, without her permission or knowledge. U.S. Attorney John Durham said that by December 2016, the outstanding debt on the illegally secured loans hit $211,142, which Riley was unable to repay.

On Dec. 15, 2016, Durham said that Riley visited an attorney claiming that he had power of attorney for his victim. He told the attorney that his victim was ill and Riley wanted to file a bankruptcy petition on her behalf, though the attorney cautioned that he needed to meet with the victim to confirm her identity before anything could be finalized.

Following several delays, on June 6, 2017, Riley and an imposter claiming to be the victim met with the attorney in his office. Riley admitted to recruiting the imposter to impersonate his victim and provided her with his victim’s Connecticut driver’s license, which had been stolen without permission.

During the meeting, the imposter used the stolen license as identification. During the proceedings, all parties involved reviewed and signed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition, which was filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Connecticut, listing unsecured debts of $277,000.

Later that month, when Riley’s victim attempted to use a department store credit card, she learned that a bankruptcy petition had been filed in her name. On June 28, 2017, Riley’s victim met with the attorney and stated that she did not file for bankruptcy.

Durham said that on that same day, Riley sent an email to the attorney stating “I clearly owe you more than an apology and clearly have not been in the right frame of mind. I need to make this right. And I know that exposes myself. You have done so much for me and I betrayed that. Please let me know what I can do to resolve this.”  The attorney then notified the bankruptcy court.

In bankruptcy court, Riley’s victim testified that her ID had been missing from her wallet when the petition was filed. She later said that, other than a student loan, all of the other unsecured debt listed in the bankruptcy petition was not her debt and that Riley had impersonated her in the past in order to obtain credit.  On July 21, 2017, the bankruptcy court dismissed the false bankruptcy petition in the victim’s name.

Riley has been released on a $100,000 bond since his arrest on May 7 last year. He faces a maximum term of five years in prison when he is sentenced on Aug. 8.

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