Thursday, November 16, 2006

bank of america jails fraud victim; victim fights back

i found this on boing boing.

matthew shinnick sold his bike and received a check from the buyer that was for much more than the agreed upon price. suspicious, he went to his local bank of america branch to ask if the check was real and if the account had sufficient funds. the teller found that the account had sufficient funds and so shinnick decided to cash it. when the teller began that process, she found that there was a fraud alert on the account and that the check was in fact fake. things went crazy from that point:

From SFGate, Check from a scammer bounces victim into jail:

The teller contacted the business and was informed that no check had been written to Shinnick for $2,000 or any other amount. She immediately passed the check to the branch manager. "I saw him talking on the phone and staring at me," Shinnick said. "A few minutes later, four SFPD officers came into the bank. They didn't say a thing. They just kicked my legs apart and handcuffed me behind my back." The police report for Shinnick's arrest says he was taken into custody "for the safety of the bank employees as well as the bank customers."

shinnick had to pay thousands to get himself out of jail and clear his name, and bank of america refused to reimburse him. so he went to a consumer advocate radio host, and this host implored his listeners to close their bank of america accounts and let him know how much money they removed from bank of america. so far, the consumer advocate says $50 million has been removed from bank of america because of this incident.

this is crazy. i closed my bank of america account years ago because of their awful customer service, but this arrest takes things to the next level. there must be a better procedure for dealing with these problems. indeed, a few questions could have cleared things up. he could've more clearly indicated his suspicion that the check might be fraudulent, and was given to him as part of a transaction. was this kind of response really necessary?


Anonymous said...

Get more details, a sound bit from Clark Howard, the Bank Of America Video, links, comment and more...


pass it around

James said...

That's why I use Wells Fargo.

But I do have an MBNA credit card, and sadly, MBNA was acquired by BofA. But I love that credit card too much to do anything about it. I know I'm weak... but I can't help it.

bea said...

I read on wikipedia that the Howard consumer guy went to the bank of america offering to pay half the legal fees if the bank put up the other half. They refused. Apparently they think if they pay the legal fees of this guy it'll open the floodgates of having to pay the legal fees of all the people they unfairly get arrested.

Stupid stupid bank. Or are they? They're so big there's nothing really bad you can do to them, unless we all put our money in our local credit unions.

omar said...

i actually think the bank is quite stupid. sure, the bank has to be careful and report fraudulent activity. but they should certainly help people who they screwed over. this guy can't sue the bank because the bank is protected from a lawsuit in this case (you can't sue people who call in suspect activity to the police). however, the bank should show some goodwill, and handle each situation accordingly. in this case, some help was required. and i'm glad some money is leaving their hands because of it. $50 million is a drop in the bucket for BofA, but it's not insignificant.