Mommy Blogging

MckMama Bankruptcy Fraud Begins Reaching Critical Mass

MckMama“, some mommy blogger that filed for bankruptcy, supposedly lied about her situation to both readers and  the court. People have asked me several times to post about the situation, but I could never figure out what exactly was going on. Luckily forensic accountant Tracy Coenen has been following the story and gave us some background on why people are so angry at mckmama:

For months, Jennifer Howe Sauls McKinney was telling her readers that she and her husband were paying their debts. She claimed the many thousands of dollars of unpaid income taxes had been paid off. None of those claims were true, as their December 2011 bankruptcy filing showed more than $725,000 of debt. This debt includes over $446,000 for the McKinneys’ third foreclosed/lost house, more than $110,000 owed to the IRS, over $55,000 owed to an employee of Israel McKinney’s contracting business, more than $29,000 owed to credit card companies and consumer lenders, more than $31,000 owed on repossessed vehicles, and a host of medical bills largely unrelated to the illness of their son Stellan. (For the uninitiated, this illness is what propelled MckMama into the public eye and made her so popular.)

Helpfully included was a bulleted breakdown of the claimed deceptions:

  1. Jennifer McKinney reported to the court that her income from blogging and photography in 2011 was $55,000, when her real income exceeded $148,000.
  2. MckMama reported to the court that her income was going to be $1,500 per month following the filing of the bankruptcy. Yet in the one month period around the time of the bankruptcy filing, she deposited more than $10,000 into her known bank account.
  3. Although required to disclose all assets in the bankruptcy filing, Jennifer Sauls McKinney and Israel McKinney failed to disclose several thousand dollars of assets, including at least one PayPal account, accounts receivable from Google and other affiliate programs, her websites, a Jayco camper, and a travel trailer.
  4. The McKinneys transferred at least a few thousand dollars to charities and family in the months leading up to their bankruptcy filing, but did not disclose these transfers as required under the bankruptcy laws.
  5. Jennifer received cash payments for photography services and did not keep records of the payments or report the income to the bankruptcy court.

Ms. Coenen adds that this “isn’t a case of simple errors made in a bankruptcy filing. The McKinneys appear to be intentionally untruthful, pretending to be poor to get out of paying their debts”, since the MckMamas are  ”accused of intentionally manipulating their income (by adjusting the advertising on the My Charming Kids blog) so that it would be lower at the time they filed their bankruptcy. After the bankruptcy was filed, the advertising was changed to increase the income.” It seems the court has caught on to the lack of full disclosure:

On Friday, Gene Doeling, the trustee in the bankruptcy case of Jennifer and Israel McKinney filed a complaint for a money judgment and denial of bankruptcy discharge. He is asking the court to allow him to take certain assets – - including money in a Paypal account, advertising money from Google, and a travel trailer, plus any other assets that he may still find – - and disallow the McKinney bankruptcy, forcing them to repay all of their debts.

That could certainly put a kink in their 6 figure income lifestyle, but I personally doubt there would be any major repercussions for this mess. It’s not likely she will lose readers or advertisers, and it doesn’t sound like she is being charged with any kind of attempted fraud. It sounds like she will just be forced to pay off her debts, and I’m sorry but if the woman is making $148k a year by taking pics of people and sitting on her ass posting pics of her kids, you’ll forgive my lack of empathy for her situation.




  1. avatar awesomesauce818

    I thought one of the most interesting things going on with this stuff is that Mckmama tried claiming her URLs were only worth $10, so the trustee offered to buy them for $10 from her and of course she balked because they are actually worth tens of thousands of dollars.

    As a result - someone please correct me if I'm wrong - her URLs are being claimed as a way to repay debts (they'll be auctioned off). She has already started telling her readers that she's changing things around/starting over ... making no mention, of course, that this is being forced on her.

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    • avatar Brianna

      Trustees can be awesome like that. When I worked for a bk attny, we were forever having people claim their cars were worth $500 and then get PISSED OFF when the trustee was like 'Awesome! I'll action this off and give you the $500 you say it's worth and we'll be square, right?'

      We had one who had a whole site to resell a few hundred domain names.

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      • avatar CrazyAmy

        Is the blog worth anything, or just the domain? I know the domain can be resold, can the..content? Ad deal partnership thingies or something? (I'm clueless, obviously.)

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        • avatar Bluth Banana Stand

          It's worth tons. Think about it - if someone else owned the content, they could put ads on it and make money. Even if it was never updated, it would get google hits. The domain isn't where the value lies, it's the content.

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          • avatar CrazyAmy

            Oh, I didn't think about it that way. Good point.

            So if she had operated the blog under a corporation if some sort, would that protect her business assets from being taken, or is it just the other way around (protecting personal assets if business goes bankrupt)?

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            • avatar Melissa

              But what about her photos and such that are copyrighted? She would have to give the copyrights over?

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      • avatar Say Rah

        Shit like this cracks me up. I don't know that much about bankruptcy, so maybe(?) some people have gotten away with some crazy shenanagins, but I've been under the impression that the people to whom you owe money would LIKE THEIR MONEY BACK. So, they're not going to just roll over and take it when you decide that you just don't like owing people money and would prefer not to anymore.

        I have an attorney friend who represented a bank and had a guy's bankruptcy ruling overturned when they discovered the guy had been having his income diverted to his brother who was then paying all his bills and expenses.

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        • avatar Brianna

          Well, it's really the Trustee and not the creditors who stick it to you.

          I mean, just think - the Trustee's JOB is to know how much things are worth and to figure out if you're hiding assets. That's all they do, all day long, hundreds and thousands of times over the year. They get a lot of practice. And this lady, who has never filed BK, thinks she's going to hemmmm and druuuurrrr her way past the trustee? No.

          Also! At least in the state of Florida, a chapter 7 trustee receives 10%, I believe, of the resulting funds from liquidated non-exempt assets. So you bet your ass those Trustees are eagle-eyed on cases like this - this is their incentive to actually do their jobs and make sure you're not hiding shit. The more they liquidate, the more they make, so you'd be doubly stupid to show up to a Chapter 7 bankruptcy hearing with half-assed paperwork and a blog that basically LAYS OUT how you're hiding shit.

          They should have just filed chapter 13, but nooo, a chapter 7 with presumption of abuse and the threat of liquidation is a lot smarter! =p

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          • avatar maibukkit

            13 is Satan's number!

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          • avatar Say Rah

            See, I'm not even smart enough to figure out how bankruptcy works!

            But my understanding is that even in the event that get one over on a trustee, that the creditor can still come back and sue you/have your bankruptcy overturned on the grounds that you lied about your assets, yes? And that a trustee could potentially be appointed by the creditor? Or that the trustee is there to represent the interests of the creditors? Fuck, this is confusing to me, I think I'll just pay my bills...

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            • avatar Brianna

              Once you receive your discharge, that's it. The creditor gets notice and a bar date, and that date is the deadline for the creditor to research and dispute what's listed on the bankruptcy. A Chapter 7 lasts around 90 days - that 90 days is all the time the debtor gets to list additional debts, make changes, etc, and all the time creditors get to allege fraud (I mean, a creditor can go 'Hey, trustee, we've looked into this and need more time!' but they can't go 'Oh, right, that deadline thing. Yeah, I know its, like, three months after that but we just found this stuff...')

              The Trustee is a mediator. He is between debtor and creditor trying to find a resolution that gets the creditor SOME money, yet doesn't leave the debtor living in a cardboard box. The Trustees I've dealt with have generally been very fair, and just as willing to smack down a creditor trying to file a claim after the deadline as they are to smack down a debtor undervaluing assets.

              Chapter 7 is basically

              Debtor: 'I can't pay my bills! Here is some paperwork showing how much I make and my debt and my bills and my stuff!'

              Trustee: 'Ok, I looked at your info and you get to keep $X dollars of stuff. You have $Y dollars listed here, so I'm going to auction off the unexempt stuff.'

              Debtor: 'That sucks, but at least Capital One will leave my ass alone! Besides, I tried selling that stuff and no one really wanted it.'

              Creditor: 'Damn, I got paid $.03 on the dollar! I guess I should have settled four months ago!'

              Debtor: 'Fuck you, Capital One!'

              Trustee: 'Yay, I made $200!'

              Fin

              I mean, a simple Chapter 7. We also got the 'Yes, I owned an X-ray machine worth $200,000 that I owed $275,000 on, but I sold it for scrap metal a month ago and only took cash and don't remember any of the people who bought parts off of it. WHAT DO YOU MEAN THE DEBT IS NON DISCHARGEABLE??!!?!?' people.

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              • avatar maibukkit

                I love this comment and lol'd aloud. I've done tax appeal work and it's exactly like that.

                Sometimes you just want to scream HELP ME TO HELP YOU.

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    • avatar mamajen

      She is losing her URLs. She has already purchased new URLs and is trying to make her readers think it was her idea.

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      • avatar CrazyAmy

        Is it health blogging? Because LOL.

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        • avatar crankyoldbitch

          Well, she did buy a domain "McHealthy.com"

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          • I'm surprised McDonald's didn't have that one nailed down.

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            • avatar CrazyAmy

              I'm surprised McDonald's hasn't come after her for her whole scheme. Don't her kids all have McDonald's related blog names? Like McNugget and Big Mac?

              But she only eats woodland creature food and sells diet pills.

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              • avatar NOLASickGirl

                Yep, they do. But oddly only wonder boy doesn't have his name used. Frankly, I refuse to call any of them by those stupid names.

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        • avatar Carol

          HAHAHA. This is the cutest comment I've seen on this thread.

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  2. avatar Char

    One of my favorite things after listening to the audio and reading the transcript of the hearing was when Jennifer told the Trustee her blog "was not yours to sale" when it was an undisclosed asset.

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    • avatar Brianna

      Did the trustee start laughing?

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      • avatar DirtyLakeMichigan

        No he didn't! That's what was so wonderful. I totally had a crush on the trustee by the time I was done reading the transcripts.

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      • avatar Char

        There was a point at another time (there were so many) that you could tell he kind of snorted or made a similar sound. If you haven't heard the audio, it's worth a listen.

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      • avatar Kerrie

        At one point he snorted though!!!6

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      • avatar Birthday Chicken

        I thought he said something like, "No, but it is mine." Didn't he?

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        • avatar Brianna

          JM: Yes, you buy the domain, so I own MckMama.com. I bought it through Google and I must continue to pay $10 a year for it to continue to be mine.

          TR: Okay, so how much value does that have?

          JM: Probably . . . I mean, $10.

          TR: So you don’t mind then if I try to sell those domain names and pay you $10?

          JM: Well I wouldn’t sell them for $10.

          TR: What would you sell them for?

          JM: Gosh, I wouldn’t . . . I would probably never sell them.

          TR: It’s not a question of what you’d sell them for, it’s what value they have. It’s part of your bankruptcy schedules.

          JM: Um. I would, uh . . . that’s a great question. I would probably sell it for, like, $50 and I would just buy a different one and then, you know, I would be able to figure something else out.

          TR: Alright, so then you wouldn’t have an objection if I tried advertising this for sale, MckMama.com and MyCharmingKids.net?

          JM: Well I would have a problem with it since it’s not yours to list for sale.

          TR: It is mine. It’s the bankruptcy estate’s. You didn’t list it.

          JM: Oh, got it. I see what you’re saying.

          TR: It’s an undisclosed asset.

          JM: Okay. No, I would figure something out. I mean, I would be able to survive without it.

          TR: Okay, so I’ll put that on the list of sort of things that we plan to sell.

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          • That is awesome. Of course I have sympathy for people who find themselves honestly in hard times and have to file bankruptcy, but it doesn't sound like this is what is happening here. A crook is a crook.

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            • avatar Cat Ass Trophy

              I, too, know that bankruptcy is there for people who need it. This Mckmama creature is just a scammer who wanted to live the high life, and now wants the tax payers (she is a Jebus lovin' republican, praise the lawd!) to fund it. I'd rather my tax money go to poor unemployed cat ladies, so their kitties may eat.

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          • avatar RollingCollectionOfCheerios

            I heard the recording of the hearing. The tone of her voice through this was pretty entertaining... I laughed.

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            • As the meeting progressed, I thought it sounded like she was sniffling, fighting off tears, as the smack was laid so righteously down.

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        • avatar KenyaBlogger

          I kept waiting for him to say "lawyered!"

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          • avatar curiositykitten

            THIS! With accompanying hand gesture, even if I can't see it.

            Don't know these people, don't find blog at all interesting. Yet I totally want to high five the dude.

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  3. avatar CrazyAmy

    If she's denied discharge, what kind of time frame does she have to pay back those debts? Cause that is a hell of a lot of debt.

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    • avatar Erin

      If the discharge is denied, there isn't a specific time frame. At that point, each individual creditor can sue her, get a judgement if she doesn't respond and then proceed to levy/garnish her bank account, her paychecks, etc. The good news, is it's kind of hard to fly under the radar when your money comes from the internet. You are generally forced to take your money by direct deposit or in paypal. I doubt many online advertisers are cutting a paper check which is essentially the only way to hide yo' money when you have judgments against you...

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      • avatar Learned_Paw

        Also, with each individual judgment there will likely be interest, court costs and fees tacked on. This can easily double or triple the amount owed.

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    • avatar maibukkit

      What Erin said. It also means the IRS can audit the past seven years of her filings -- which they will, under a microscope -- as once she's denied bankruptcy on the grounds that she attempted to defraud the court... goodbye, presumption of innocence!

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  4. avatar DirtyLakeMichigan

    Someone commented in the NG thread that reading that blog was like getting sucked into a wormhole. This is the same thing. Yesterday I got sucked into this for a good 2 hours and ended up on Tracy Coenan's blog. I really, REALLY hope these people get charged on a federal level! The transcripts of the meeting w/ the trustee and Jennifer is fascinating. She thinks people are stupid... the forensic accountant drilling her was wonderfully relentless. He/she was just having Jennifer hang herself over and over again.

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    • avatar RollingCollectionOfCheerios

      By the sounds of it, the federal trustee will be turning over the information he has to the IRS, with whom she is already in deep kimchee with. Between the bankruptcy fraud and IRS fraud, I'd be surprised if she and Israel don't end up in federal prison soon. Good thing she likes orange, huh?

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    • avatar zekey

      she thinks people are stupid because she has a whole host of blog followers who hang on her every word and are blindly loyal to her.... time to wake up.

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  5. avatar MMGCSI

    Want to hear something interesting? MWOP has the recording (and transcript!) of the bankruptcy creditors meeting; MckMama really dug herself in a hole with all the lying and evading to the trustee. It's hard to miss in the audio!

    http://mwopblog.com/creditors-meeting-ii/

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  6. avatar undeadgraceland

    big_bad_mama_2_small_46788_t620.png?fbf2daa044e08a86b24c9c38cd7501865a0e2373

    BOOM! ..Big Bad Mama 2 ;^o

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  7. avatar Random Person

    Holy carp, some of these gals are really making that much money blogging? No wonder they are so reluctant to give it up and walk away, even when it's destroying them.

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    • avatar Jellysaurus Rex

      No kidding... and that's not even touching the inflated egos so many bloggers get. Can you imagine them trying to adjust to having a boss again after so many years of self-"employment"?

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      • avatar Random Person

        Seriously.

        They'd be hard-pressed to find jobs that pay that much, and considering most of them live in East Bumblefuck, it's really a lot of money.

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    • I have been blogging for two years and I monetize my blog...and let's just say it would probably take me a decade to make that kind of money. That's insane!!

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      • Dude. Right?? I have two "sponsors" (friends of mine who have ads on my blog, plus my mom who I host for free, because, you know, she birthed me) and I just can't see myself getting to the point of being able to support myself through blogging. Grocery money, maybe, but a living? No way.

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      • avatar tinycandi

        The only reason why she made bank was because she had a sick child. Frankly...I couldn't live with myself knowing that my huge paycheck came because my child was desperately ill. And to just WASTE that money and end up where she is now? She could have had trust funds set up for her children. She could have...I don't know...paid her bills. Not spent so much on crap she didn't need. Lots of things. But instead...she decided to lie and cheat and manipulate her blog income in order to try to have her debts wiped out.

        Just makes me sick.

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  8. avatar kissmygrits

    My absolute favorite part of the transcript is when the trustee (TR) is questioning her husband (IM) about the value of her engagement ring:

    TR: The engagement ring.

    IM: Yeah.

    TR: Was $3,500?

    IM: She seemed worth it.

    She "seemed" worth it.

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    • avatar GetMePizzaYouOldTroll

      MGEmma.gif

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    • avatar Super Nintendo Chalmers

      *dead*

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    • Well, they are in the midst of a separation (or "separation," depending on what you believe about the situation).

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    • I cannot imagine dropping that much money on a piece of jewelry. For serious. I know it's an investment and the idea is that you'll have it forever, so in the long run I *guess* that isn't that expensive. But in the short run? Lawd no.

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      • avatar Samson

        It's not an investment. Most new diamonds are worth a fraction of what you paid for them.

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        • True. I just meant "investment" as "thing you get a lot of 'use' out of". Like how some people pay a ton for an article of clothing, but then they have it for years and wear it all the time.

          Though that doesn't make the whole idea any less ridiculous.

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      • avatar Normal Mormon

        Amen. Seriously. Put that $3500 in a mutual fund. That's an investment.

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  9. avatar floppy

    Whoa, I thought that was a fat Brendan Frasier in drag. Had no idea what this crotch potato peddler looked like at all.

    People like her are who all these whiteknights need to remember, that their beloved blogger that they are so fiercely defending could be shady as fuck, no one knows what goes on in their homes and how much they are covering up on their sites while leaving a messy trail elsewhere.

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    • avatar bitchwaffles

      Really? Insulting her looks & weight? There are real things to insult her for/about. You go for her looks & weight? Are you NicoleDooce?

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      • this isn't jezebel.

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      • avatar floppy

        LOL
        Yes, there are real things to insult her for and I did, she's a shady fucking cuntbag. Are you going to be upset that I called her a cunt as well? Boo hoo.

        I can't believe you're here, thought you'd be so busy french kissing pissed off shit covered chickens.

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        • avatar bitchwaffles

          Wow.

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        • avatar HamSweetHam

          OMG, you guys! Shady fucking cuntbags are TOTALLY NICE if they have enough room to stretch their legs and peck around, and if they are handled from a young age and treated kindly. You can totally keep a shady fucking cuntbag in your laundry room and they lay the best eggs. Shady fucking cuntbags for everyone!

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          • avatar bitchwaffles

            You're putting a lot of energy into this.

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            • avatar Super Nintendo Chalmers

              SNJ1N.jpg

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            • avatar Cat Ass Trophy

              I think Mckmama is ugly as fuck, baboons are more attractive, and an idiot who will finally get hers. I don't need any syrupy shit from you about it, bitchwaffles.

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            • avatar WhiskyTangoFoxtrot

              You're working just as hard, dear. Longtime lurker, first reply, sick of the chickenshit.

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              • avatar WhiskyTangoFoxtrot

                Whoops, should have been a reply to Bitchwaffles. Dumb N00b mistake. So sorry, so fat. Time to feed the cat.

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              • avatar franzia.bot

                No worries WTF,

                Here have a cuppa box wine on the rocks.

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              • avatar Cat Ass Trophy

                You made me cry into my kitties' kibble. It's ok; they think it is special day and they are getting wet food.

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      • avatar Charlotte

        This isn't a ~safe space~ or ~social justice land~. Sit down and shut up or get the fuck out. Your decision.

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        • avatar floppy

          LOL
          People often confuse this place as a "place of yes" or some shit, like we're sitting around here waiting to give fluffy constructive criticism. Bitches please, we're just here to snark on lame blogger behavior and have fun.

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  10. avatar silveroak

    I love Tracey, for some other disections on bloggers as well.

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    • avatar yana

      Seriously. I never knew about her until today, and now I want to work for her. Forensic Accountant seems like an awesome gig.

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  11. avatar Birthday Chicken

    Damn! 10K in a month? What is this, the McMafia? She needs to get a spot on "Mob Wives."

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    • avatar Char

      That was the month she was claiming poverty.

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      • avatar Birthday Chicken

        Wow, really? She missed her calling. She could be on any of the housewives shows, claiming not have any money but still spending like crazy.

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        • avatar Atticus Finch

          Except she's way too fat. Those diet pills must have stopped working.

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  12. avatar slack-jawed

    I haven't had enough sleep today and have therefore already started giggling uncontrollably/hysterically at various things at work by noon, but the title "MckMama Bankruptcy Fraud Begins Reaching Critical Mass" with the respective picture below topped it all. :-)

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  13. avatar kissmygrits

    Her "golly gee gosh" act and no memory of anything whatsoever must have gotten on the trustee's last nerve. Oh well, it shouldn't take her long to pay back the 750k once she figures out how blogging works since she made almost $150k a year apparently not understanding anything about blogging or ads or clicks, etc. and that's only what's been reported.

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    • I imagine the trustee has dealt with those "golly gee gosh" people a LOT over the course of his career. People are surprisingly terrible at remembering where all that money they were supposed to pay their bills with went, heh. They always seem to act as though it just disappeared. I'm guessing the trustee has a LOT of experience with the "whoops, where'd our money go?" act the Mckinney's are pulling.

      This is the danger of a blog that is really profitable - it's easy to get in over one's head and be tied to it even when it is destroying your family. But MckMama has always been very... bipolar, I guess? I don't mean it in the sense of the mental illness exactly, although that could cause it, but she really goes through cycles of depression/failure/Jesus help me/I am so flawed and a sinner and then manic cycles of spending money like crazy (even as they were preparing to file for bankruptcy, for god's sake). I think the kids were unfortunately a side effect of that - she had this idea that just having babies forever would fix her problems, and instead she is 3/4 of a million dollars in debt, in the midst of a divorce, with five hungry mouths to feed and too much designer kids' clothing she can't admit she shouldn't have bought.

      At least she has her diet drugs - er, I mean supplements.

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      • avatar Brianna

        But any good Trustee can tell the difference between 'Genuinely bewildered, bad with money' and 'Playing the fool in hopes the Trustee will get tired and just not really look at things too closely'.

        I mean, these people are saying they paid two mortgage payments for their house, pumped out the septic tank, then decided to give up the house (??), paid $5000 for a fucking RV rental? Because that makes sense when you're approaching bankruptcy, to pay $5000 for a luxury vacation item.

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        • Yeah, and this trustee clearly has been around the block before. His voice gets pretty dry as the audiotape goes on, doesn't it?

          I think their rationale for the RV was something like "spend money to make money", because she did photography on that trip. Although I can't imagine they actually made much off of it.

          I think the best part of the audiotape, since we're mentioning it, is the part ith the RV. "Since we don't hold the title, we figured we just didn't have to tell you about how much money we made selling it! Whoops, silly us!"

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          • avatar Brianna

            And, yeah, their BK attorney totally didn't tell them that if it wasn't titled in their name it wasn't theirs. BS. It sounds like they just went to a petition preparer, too, because $1000 plus filing is insanely cheap for a Chapter 7 involving multiple repos, foreclosures, vehicles, and self employment income. It sounds like their attorney isn't even at the 341.

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            • avatar NOLASickGirl

              Go research their "attorney", it will all become clear then.

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              • avatar maibukkit

                Seriously. If you're going to ruin your life and cheat on your taxes, save cash for a real lawyer.

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      • avatar DirtyLakeMichigan

        Soooooo on the mark stressandstars.

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