A tip from a Watchdog reader has helped Iowa Legal Aid recover more than $180,000 for a couple that a court found had been cheated out of their home by a Des Moines real-estate flipper.
The tipster told Watchdog that Danial Howe, who said he left the country after Muniba and Hasan Toric sued him in June 2020, was marketing himself online as a cryptocurrency expert.
After Watchdog inquired with Iowa Legal Aid, which had represented the Torics in court, the nonprofit agency was able to confirm the tip. It subpoenaed Howe’s bank accounts and financial records and learned he was making big money with cryptocurrency investments.
Using a provision of Iowa law that dated from long before the Bitcoin era, it was able to force Howe this month to cash in his cryptocurrency to pay back the Torics.
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“It’s definitely a feel-good story. Our clients were in dire straits, and they had really been just scraping by,” said Alex Kornya, litigation director for Iowa Legal Aid.
Kornya said the case could be useful for other lawyers in Iowa pursuing payment of court judgments.
How 1945 case forced scammer to cash in cryptocurrency
Iowa’s law providing for the collection of judgments is dated and didn’t account for new kinds of assets like cryptocurrency. But Iowa Legal Aid used a 1945 case to argue it should be able to collect from defendants who defrauded others but hid their assets in a new…