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November 9, 2006 12:42 AM
Broken: Bank of America jailing a customer
I've heard of customer-hostile banks (and have experienced them myself), but this Bank of America story takes the cake.
Matthew Shinnick dropped by a Bank of America branch in San Francisco to make sure a check he was about to deposit wasn't fraudulent. The teller found that the check was fraudulent and told the manager, who then had Shinnick thrown in jail.
Are you getting this right? The customer who wanted to make sure he wasn't about to draw on a fraudulent check, got thrown in jail by Bank of America.
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 spent several hours in jail, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, before his father posted $4,500 bail. All told Shinnick spent $14,000 to clear his record. Bank of America refused to reimburse him.
In response, consumer advocate and radio host Clark Howard started a Bank of America "Money Loss Meter" to show how much money his listeners have withdrawn from BofA as they close their accounts in protest. It's up to $50 million. (There's more on Clark's site.)
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has more on the story: Clark Howard takes on B-of-A. For their part, Bank of America denies that customers are closing their accounts as Howard claims.
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