But, when he went to the bank, in order to cash it, the bank had him arrested for fraud, because they thought he was lying about his claim to owning a home.
"I was embarrassed," Njoku told King 5. "She asked me what I did for a living. Asked me where I got the check from, looked me up and down -- like 'you just bought a house in Auburn, really?' She didn't believe that."Mr. Njoku, was told to come back the next day to receive his cash, whereupon the police arrested him for forgery. Was in jail for 5 days...
Njoku was taken to jail on June 24, 2010, which was a Thursday. The next day, Chase Special Investigations, realized it was a mistake. The check was legitimate. The Investigator called Auburn Police and left a message with the detective handling the case, but it was her day off. So Njoku stayed in jail for the entire weekend. Finally, on Monday, he was released. ...His check was seized as evidence, but worse still, he was fired from his job for "abandonment." Ummm...he had trouble getting there because he was in jail
"They [Chase] haven't even sent me a letter or apologized," he said. "It's been a year we've been trying to contact these guys." He has since hired an attorney. Mr. Njoku is not the first individual who has been imprisoned for what has arguably been a bank's mistake. In June of this year, KCAL 9 reported that Laguna Beach resident Stephen McDow had been arrested for spending $60,000 of a $110,000 tax refund that Citibank had mistakenly deposited in his account.I'm not one to jump into court for petty reasons, but it seems to me that if the bank has you arrested, falsely, because they screwed up, you just might have a pretty damn good reason for litigation. I hope that he sues them for millions. I don't think a jury would rule against him, not if the facts, as reported by King5 TV is accurate. Here's video:
To make matters worse, while he was in jail, his car was towed from the bank parking lot...and eventually sold because he couldn't afford to pay the impound fees.
"It was really important, I had a vehicle I was looking on paying off," said. Njoku. And it wasn’t just any vehicle. “It was a 2001 Infinity I-30, silver…just like my favorite car, “he said....For Njoku, going to jail for five days meant a lot more than just losing his freedom. He said the entire time he was “just stressed out…trying to figure out what was going on with my vehicle. I love my vehicle,” he said. Njoku’s car had been towed from the bank parking lot and his check seized as evidence. “I had to wait a couple of weeks,” he said, “and my car got sold, auctioned off." Njoku says he didn’t have the money to pay the impound fees and fines to get his car back before it was sold. He said he also lost his job because he didn’t show up for work while he was in jail.After a year, a Seattle attorney, Felix Luna, offered to help him. Here's a link to the letter Mr. Luna sent to Chase on Mr. Njoku's behalf.
“It’s one thing to make a mistake,” Luna said. “It’s one thing to make multiple errors of judgment like Chase has made and then, once you realize that your error has caused such harm to somebody else, to just ignore it for a year. I think he deserved better. I think all their customers do.”Chase, has only begun the process to make this right...because the local media got involved. When King5 a local television station aired the case and began inquiring into the facts, they first received a brushoff email response, and even that took a week to get to the station.
"We received the letter and are reviewing the situation. We'll be reaching out to the customer," wrote Darcy Donoahoe-Wilmot, from Chase Media Relations.This pretty much how banks react to something unusual.
Last week, just before the 4th of July holiday weekend. I received a small bonus check from my employer. Six months of busting my butt, and working very long hours during our busy season (convention preparation months, March-May) and actually going around the country to several trade shows to supervise exhibit setups paid off. When I went to M & T Bank (which bought out Provident Bank--my old bank by the way) I was forced to wait for 20 minutes while they "verified" the check as real. When I ask for it back, intending to just go to my bank to deposit it, I was told there were questions about the "validity" of the check. I then asked for my ID back, when that was refused, as they had "questions" on that as well...I called the police and they (the police officer who responded actually knew me) forced the bank to return both the check and my ID back...that's why my wife and I don't use M & T any more...Wachovia gets our business now.
Only after getting the media involved was anything done about Mr. Njoku's case. The bank has subsequently apologized
"This is a very unfortunate and unusual situation," wrote Darcy Donahoe-Wilmot of Chase Public Relations. "We apologize to Mr. Njoku and deeply regret what happened to him. We are working quickly to understand all the details so we can reach a fair resolution.
A "fair resolution". I think that's for a jury to decide. After all, this man lost his job and his car because this bank's failure to properly contact the police...leaving a voicemail message, about someone you've had arrested on felony fraud charges isn't sufficient. Mr. Njoku, I hope you ask for millions! I'd give it to you, after all, JP Morgan-Chase, did get billions out of the federal government, maybe their president can pay it out of the huge bonus he got that year.