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The J-True Hollywood Story: Owed $20,000 in 401(k)

by J. Money on Monday, March 7, 2011

J True Hollywood Story
Boy, I’m just divulging everything up in here aren’t I? :) I guess I can’t hold it in anymore.  But unlike last week’s fiasco, THIS news looks to be much more promising!  Even though you’ll probably wonder what the hell is wrong with me for being so patient throughout it all, haha… seriously, this might be the single most craziest/jacked-up story yet in my career.  I sure know how to pick ‘em…

(and if you’re a long-time reader here, *this* is what I’ve been referring to over the past cple years when I said there were issues w/ my 401(k) I couldn’t discuss yet… there’s a lot more to the story here, but here’s the general run down)

The Situation (as said w/ Jersey accent)

There’s no easy way to sugar coat it, so here’s the deal:  My ex-ex employer (not to be confused with the shady 1-ex-employer) has owed me $20,000 for over a year now.  In fact, it’s been 14 months.  And by that I mean -  she deducted it from my paycheck, and never put it INTO my 401(k) account (both employee AND employer contributions).  So basically she stole it and/or used it for company business which is obviously highly illegal.  So why didn’t I do anything about it?

Why I didn’t do anything about it

First, as always, I never imagine stuff like this happening.  Especially for such a long period of time.  It had happened a few times before in my4+ years of employment, but every single time without fail it was corrected. So as crazy/annoying/illegal as it was, I had always gotten back every last penny owed to me.

But the second, and most important reason I never cried wolf, was the fact that my ex-ex-employer and I are good friends.  And everyone knows what happens when money issues come between you  – it can get extremely ugly and extremely fast.  (We became friends AFTER I was hired, I usually don’t like mixing business with pleasure, except for online stuff ;))  So while I wanted my money as fast as possible to put this whole nonsense behind us, I also wanted to make sure I gave her every last opportunity to the very end until I couldn’t take it any longer.

The day I couldn’t take it any longer

You know when bad news comes in 3?  Well, in early Jan this struck and I just lost my $hit.  Not in a angry or disrespectful way, but more like a “I’m tired of just sitting back and waiting” way.  That was when I got serious about taking legal action against 1-ex-employer (last paycheck dumminess), and another company that owes me $2,000 still in back pay (which should hit my account any day now).

I asked my friend/ex-ex employer one last time when the money would be going in, and she said at the end of the month (Jan).  I flat out told her that if nothing is in there come Feb 1 I’m reporting her to the Department of Labor (who I had contacted, but never gave details or moved forward with yet). I told her I loved her, I respected her (mostly), but I was done playing games. I needed to get this over with and move on with my life.

Unsurprisingly, she went bonkers. I mean, like total 180.  And for a brief moment I actually got scared!  It was like the exorcist up in there!! ;)  Haha… But as you can imagine, I was utterly and completely exhausted by that point and it really didn’t matter anymore…  If I lost her as a friend, so be it.  Obviously she hadn’t been respecting me these past 14 months anyways.

Where we stand now

I got $3,000 of my money!!  Magically enough the first week of Feb came and I had a nice little surprise in it :) I was seriously dumbfounded.  Did my threatening do it?  Was it just the timing? (it seemed to come awfully faster than normal, and there’s not many ways you can do that when financial processes are in place with these institutions). I still don’t know, but I honestly don’t care.  The fact that ANYTHING made it in is a good sign to me, and shows that we may be nearing toward the end of this thing.

And that’s really why I’m bringing it up right now.  It’s hard for me to be all rant-like on this site when I don’t have anything positive to add to the story like last week, so I wanted to share something GOOD today :)  Something that will hopefully motivate you to get up and stand for your rights MUCH more quickly than myself! Haha…

I’ll let you know if the remaining $17,000 hits when it’s supposed to, but either way we’re feeling hopeful. Appreciate y’all listening.  And I hope none of you guys are going through such stupidness!  If you are, let it all out below and release a little stress :)  We’re all in this together, baby.

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Diane March 7, 2011 at 6:52 am

No more pussy-footing around. Report this to whomever you need to – this week – to get this resolved. It’s highly unethical at the very best. $3K is nice and all, but this is illegal and you’ve been harmed. Go after a remedy.

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2 Slackerjo March 7, 2011 at 7:50 am

It sounds like she doesn’t have the money to give you, but admitting that would be basically admitting guilt.

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3 The Fire Finder March 7, 2011 at 9:04 am

I would agree with Diane. This sort of thing is wrong and you need to do something about it. The reason this happens is because people like yourself are so happy the ordeal is over that they don’t want to deal with it anymore. I am glad you have 3K but it is still bad.
http://thefirefinder.com

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4 Sense March 7, 2011 at 9:05 am

On a much smaller scale, i have seen first-hand what money issues do to otherwise awesome relationships very recently. my ex roommate claims i owe her $70 for a broken tv that I threw out after 2 months of her not returning my texts or calls or coming over to pick her stuff up; i was sorely tempted just to pay to keep our ‘friendship.’ that claim came on the heels of her desperately trying to eke out every penny she could from me, even if that meant screwing me over and sticking me with a new roommate (her friend) who is in trouble with the government over his old businesses (owes them lots of money from taxes), trouble with the law over his ex wife (alleged assault and overdue child support), and likes to move at the drop of a hat to get away from the above. when i refused to allow him to move in, she was happy to try to stick me with a random off of the street, whoever could move in just two days after she gave notice…just so she could get more of her security deposit back. now, I refuse to pay the $70 for the tv but am a bit afraid to tell her so; i’ve been on vacation so it hasn’t been an issue yet, but i am tempted to just ignore her phone calls or messages. mostly, i’m afraid that she is going to do the 180 you mentioned here and sic her crazy boyfriend on me, who has already verbally bullied me over earlier issues. I did nothing wrong by throwing away the tv, gave her many chances and notified her of the deadline, and she clearly doesn’t deserve my friendship if she is willing to sell me out for a few bucks or get angry at me over her mistake. my self respect is worth more than her fleeting attention.

good on ya for sticking up for yourself and drawing a line in the sand. you’re obviously a nice guy to give her so many chances, but that doesn’t mean that you’re a wimpy pushover, even for close friends. she stole from you and your family’s future…$20K is a LOT of dough!!! (don’t get me started on the compounding interest calculations over 30 years…whoa). enough is enough! so glad you told her what you’d do if she didn’t show you the money (dare you to scream that at her).

we can stick to our guns together. :) good luck with all of this, and i’m so so sorry your ex-employers have been SO SHADY!!!

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5 c March 7, 2011 at 9:06 am

I’m no lawyer, but I am curious whether or not you would also have a case for getting the earnings that the 20k would have earned if it were paid when it should have been. You have it pretty well documented how you would have had it invested and the market has had a great past 2 years.

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6 Melanie March 7, 2011 at 9:27 am

Don’t settle for three grand! That’s crap! She’s just hoping that that will keep you quiet and she’ll string you along until the next time that you have to freak out to get some more. I’m sorry, but you’re not only losing $20,000, you’re also losing the compounding interest that could be magically working towards your retirement. Your smarter than this!

I know that when emotions are involved it’s hard to make a decision. But I’m telling you this. This person is NOT YOUR FRIEND. If she was, this never would have happened. What she did was wrong, and illegal and it needs to be reported.

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7 Ashley March 7, 2011 at 9:28 am

How does this keep happening to you? I agee with the previous commentors.. you need to do whatever you need to do. What about all the earnings from that money? She isn’t your friend, friends don’t treat eachother like that. You have given her enough breaks.

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8 Cassie March 7, 2011 at 9:56 am

Bad luck comes in 3′s, and it appears you’ve had 3 shitty employment situations in a row. Maybe that means you’re due in for some good luck? :)

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9 Trinnie March 7, 2011 at 9:56 am

Dude, how does this keep happening to you!?!?!? I think you’re just WAY too good of a person and unfortunately, the world realizes that and the evil that is out there just hits you. It kills me that this is happening to you! I have to agree w/the other posters, though. You definitely have to stick up for what’s legally yours. Forget waiting, contact DOL now! Good luck, my friend.

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10 Denis March 7, 2011 at 10:16 am

Have you learned nothing from rap/hip hop?? Money over everything…especially money over b*tch*s! This “friend” is not a friend. I stress when people owe me $5 bucks and you don’t stress over $20k….Wtf!? Take action on this B now!

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11 CityFlips March 7, 2011 at 10:32 am

Wow. Bummer to have such frustrating situations, but it’s cool to hear that at least some of them are turning out ok!

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12 Beth March 7, 2011 at 10:51 am

That woman isn’t your friend. If she was, she would have never tried to screw you out of 20K and broken several laws doing so. She does not respect you and thinks she can get you off her back with a few thousand every once in awhile – it’s that simple. Report her and file legal action now. Think how much that money could have grown in the past few years. Also talk with a CPA and a lawyer about any tax issues you might have to deal with because the money did not hit the account in the correct year.

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13 Robert Muir March 7, 2011 at 11:21 am

I’m not a lawyer, but the problem with reporting her is that you may not get any money out of her because she’ll close up shop, pay the fine and disappear.

You don’t say if she agreed to installment payments or what, but you were happy with the $3k, so I assume that’s the case. Let her know that as long as the installments continue, you won’t blow the whistle, but the day they stop, it’s time to follow through with the threat even if you might not get any more money.

J. you REALLY need to read some Robert Ringer books. Especially “Winning through Intimidation”. You’re a frickin’ walking doormat!!!

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14 LaToya March 7, 2011 at 11:41 am

J$, you know i LOVE you, but baby you need to grow a pair! $20K is A LOT of money! You are too nice! This person is NOT your friend, she took advantage of you. That is not something friends would do. She is a horrible business person, because deducting money from somone’s pay and not putting/contributing it to the correct place is called THEFT. I know I AM A LAWYER! Not only should you get all of your money back, but you should get the interest it would have accumulated. You should get to suing her personnally and her business. Maybe she has a bond you can collect from, property you can attach, ect. You need to act fast as 14 months have gone by and depending on the state you are in your statute of limitations could have ran. But by all means DO SOMETHING NOW!!!

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15 WR March 7, 2011 at 11:53 am

With employees increasingly responsible for self funding their retirement, any fraud in this area is unconscionable.

I would *gently* remind her how severely illegal and reprehensible this is and point her to some of the recent stories that bolster this point:

http://www.justice.gov/usao/can/press/2010/2010_02_11_curran.sentenced.press.html

http://www.plansponsor.com/Plan_Sponsor_Sentenced_for_401k_Theft.aspx

http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/newsroom/2011/11-91-PHI.html

…there are unfortunately many more like this

-WR

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16 J. Money March 7, 2011 at 11:56 am

Sorry, quick clarification – I did not “settle” on $3,000, that was just the first chunk of payment made (one of the many paycheck amounts). There’s no way in hell I’m not going after this to the very last penny, beleive me ;) There’s a reason for my madness, I just can’t talk about a lot of it…. right now I’m just EXCITED it’s happening without anything getting ugly first!

Oh, and yeah – the reason it keeps happening to me? Besides bad luck? I take HUGE risks ;) I work for startups that I know are gonna be shaky, but which I also know I’m going to have FUN at and make a crap ton of money during the good times. (and also where I can wear my mohawk!!! Haha…) In all honesty it’s a great adventure, despite the $hitty parts like this and the previous dilemna. I’ve had my fair share as you know of REALLY REALLY good things happening at these companies, but if you don’t jump this ship at the right time, you go down w/ the rest ;) And I chose to wait until the very end so I can save save save until it was time to work for myself. If I were job-hopping I’d have gone before a lot of this stuff went off the chain…

So yup — it keeps happening to me, but yup — I knew what I was getting into (for the most part) from he start. I’ve saved $150,000 in 3-4 years from these companies, so it wasn’t all bad ;) Now it’s time to fight for the last remaining dollars owed. Fingers crossed!

(Also, another major part of the problem is my ex-ceo doesn’t actually HAVE the money — which is another reason I keep waiting… from our last convo though, she’ll be getting large chunks in the next few weeks so if I don’t get paid out of that (which I’m told I will) then I know it’s 100% over w/ her and the Dept of Labor will most certainly get a call from me. In fact, the woman is standing by waiting for me to say GO ;))

@Sense – YES! We are both pretty similar in this stuff :) I got your back too Sense! And I totally hear you on being somewhat afraid of craziness. That’s the part not many people understand. Even if it’s 100% black & white (like my 401k case, for ex.) doesn’t mean that the “best” solution is to call the authorities. What if my “friend” went out of their way to F*ck up my life? what if your friend’s ex came over to warn you? all that stuff has to be taken into consideration. ANd to be honest? I’d much rather be out of money than fight for my right and end up being hurt at the end – either physically or mentally. It’s not worth it, and only we can decide how much to push it or not. Let me know what happens! I got your back :)

@c – I think there is something to that, actually. Althougth when this happened the first time I would have LOST at least 60% of it all due to the market crashes ;) So in that case I actually kinda doubled my money by the time it all went in. So it could go both ways, but it only matters if I actually file something against her. I’m not too worried about that, I just want what was taken out of my paychecked and matched.

@Denis – Money, Cash.. money cash hoes! haha… true dat.
@Beth – Tax stuff is a-okay, it doesn’t affect that (which surprised me actually, but my CPA said all was good). Good call though.
@Robert Muir – Haha, there’s a reason for my madness don’t worry ;) She’s already closed up shop, which is part of the problem – she has no money. But we’re getting there…
@LaToya – Yup – if the rest doesn’t go in by March 31st I say GO and we’re onto war! I say there’s a 70% chance all will be good, and giving her one last chance — as crazy as that sounds ;)

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17 retirebyforty March 7, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Hope you get the 17k on time. It’s tough all around in this economy, but you can’t fool around with 401k like that. You gotta report the ex ex if she doesn’t pay up. Good LUCK!

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18 Brandi March 7, 2011 at 12:49 pm

Guitar Guy was let go from his job last Thursday. He worked in Sales. He was 3 months away from being fully vested in the company (which is why we’re betting they found a reason to get rid of him…). They are ‘allowing him’ his paycheck for his commission from February. On March 3, when he was let go, he had ALREADY hit his budget for March. Meaning in 3 days he had managed to close enough accounts to have March in the bag.

They let him go on the 3rd, and are refusing to give him his commission for ANY of that work from the 1st to the 3rd. WHich I personally think is BULLSHIT…but I don’t work in sales so I don’t know the in’s and outs.

There is no severence package. He gets insurance til the end of this month. He was escorted to the front door, keys revoked, and not even a ‘good luck’ from his office manager. His BOSS didn’t even come out of her office to acknowledge him on his way out.

He is actually excited to have a reason to find something better…but it still burns my ass.

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19 Meredith Lines March 7, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Dude, J, I love ya, but you are on planet delusion right now. What you are saying is that your employer/”friend” STOLE 20,000 from you, and you haven’t reported her to the proper authorities? How many others has she done this to? Not only is this a ridiculous DOL violation, and she should be fined, and required to pay you back (with interest) she should go to jail for this. And imagine who else she has done this to! Man up and go after this broad!

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20 Jason L March 7, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Wow J, you’ve got some bad luck with employers! I work for startups though, so I know exactly where you’re coming from. Good luck with the remaining 17k. This is also a good reminder for those of us who are in the startup world, so I’m sharing this story with my coworkers just as a precautionary tale.

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21 Brian @ Be Better Now March 7, 2011 at 1:58 pm

I can understand why you work for yourself and your own businesses now. Not that there aren’t a number of good reasons to do it, but wow, you’ve got extra motivation.

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22 Big Ass Superstar March 7, 2011 at 4:18 pm

Well done, sir. Keep at it. Seriousface.

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23 Crystal March 7, 2011 at 5:19 pm

I am so glad you got a little of it now! But honestly, I’d take off the kiddie gloves and make this a legal issue to ensure you get the rest. If we were talking a week of groceries, I may let it go, but $17,000 is just too much to play nice for. I HIGHLY value my friendships, but she is proving not to value you at all. I’d drop her faster than my pups snarf down dog biscuits…

Good luck.

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24 Revanche March 7, 2011 at 7:35 pm

So ultimately you’re saying you have all the documentation and the DOL is ready to go if the rest of the money isn’t in by X date? And the fees and penalties that she also legally owes you for not paying you back? Cause – and especially if she’s going to cry poor – I know it takes them a bit of time to force her to pay up but this is your money and should have been in your pocket long ago.

As long as you have a game plan!

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25 Clever Dude March 7, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Good luck with getting the rest bud. Question though: Is she giving you cash or depositing into your 401k? If cash, how will you handle the tax issue as your W-2s say you contributed that money, thus affecting your taxable income, but now you’re getting it all in your pocket. I would think that could get messy tax-wise.

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26 duddes02 March 7, 2011 at 8:34 pm

ugh, that’s so upsetting.

If you wanted to get really nasty-you should fight for whatever the growth would have been if you had it invested. Is that it legal to try to get back some of your lost earnings on the money??

What does your w2 look like? it the 20k listed?

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27 Stoofy March 7, 2011 at 9:08 pm

What Clever Dude said, especially with the employer portion (~$4k, maybe?). If the business is under, can’t imagine that plan is still active, and if you get a cash deposit to your personal account with no taxes paid on it, that’s beyond a w-2 issue; it’s a 1099 with penalty.

And even if you would have lost money in the market, check this: http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/calculator/main.html … thanks, DOL. But only if it gets to that point, of course ;)

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28 Jaime March 7, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Do you want Jersey Shore J? I love that show, lol, don’t hate me for loving it. Its so addicting dude. Is it sad that I love it since I’m an accountant major in college? lol. Anyway, congrats that thing worked out for you but no offense dude, she doesn’t sound much of a friend, a true friend would be like, “yes let me look into it after lunch and see what I can do for you.”

A true friend doesn’t take 14 months to get back to you. That’s just completely disrespectful, but I’m happy for you. Way to go. =)

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29 Jaime March 7, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Do you watch* Jersey Shore J?

Sorry I had a typo on my previous comment.

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30 J. Money March 8, 2011 at 3:06 am

@Brandi – Ouch. Yeah, that’s ROUGH – sorry to hear that jacked up junk. That’s the worst – when they don’t even treat you like a human. Give him a pat on the ass for me! :)
@Meredith Lines – haha, I like it here on planet delusion ;) it’s much better here than on the other side in the middle of a war… although we may soon find out what that’s like, bleh.
@Jason L – Yup, gotta take the hits when they come, but the UPS are damn good too! :)
@Brian @ Be Better Now – Yeah, this world is full of jokers man. Hoping to never go back to that world again, haha….
@Big Ass Superstar – how do you type “seriousface?” Like this? :|
@Revanche – Yup! pretty much. It’ll take a few months when all is said and done, but if she doesn’t have the money then of course it’ll take much longer…. but at least then the Gov’t is on to her. Which is another reason I want to get this fixed before going that route – I’ll get it much faster. But again, only if she has the money ;)
@Clever Dude, Stoofy – My W2 from last year shows me maxing out my 401k so when I get it it’ll already be accounted for. She’d deposit it directly into that same account, no cash. If I get cash, then yeah – lots of tax issues :( but that’s not how this first $3k got done.
@duddes02 – The max of $16,500 is listed. Yeah I can prob. go after fees/etc etc, will have to ask if it gets to that point :)
@Jaime – thanks :) and hell yeah I watch Jersey Shore! it’s awesome… sometimes a bit too much for me and I turn it off, but the first season was totally dope. GTL, baby!

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31 Financial Samurai March 8, 2011 at 10:52 pm

Hope you get your money! That is kinda shady they took it for who knows what.

One piece of advice though, I’d probably lay low, or lower on highlighting all this stuff now that you are out in the open. It may be a red flag, even if it’s not your fault for future employers if you ever decide to go back that route.

Remember the end of The Social Network? People can argue anything to look like anything.

Best, Sam

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32 Evan March 9, 2011 at 10:54 am

Well said Sam. You are more or less not anonymous anymore…I’d be weary of posting anything that may turn litigious

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33 Bret @ Hope to Prosper March 14, 2011 at 2:04 pm

My ex-employer kept some of their employee’s 401K deposits. Luckily, they had scrapped the plan before I came on board, because I definitely would have reported them. It’s hard enough to save for retirement, because very few employers match, without having someone swipe your savings. I am so thankful to now work for an ethical company.

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34 No Debt MBA June 1, 2011 at 9:39 am

Wow, that’s one of those horror stories you read about in the press, but like you I assume it can never happen to me. My SO tends to work for start ups so I can understand how things can get mixed up and it can be hard to set them straight. What a mess! Good luck!

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35 J. Money June 1, 2011 at 9:29 pm

Hah! Exactly – that’s why we never see them coming, cuz it could never happen to us! :) Hoping to have it all wrapped up within a few days, fingers crossed!

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