Cash a Check, Go to Jail

Some people are assholes but usually just being an asshole isn’t that big of a deal. When being an asshole at work leads to an innocent man sitting in jail for an entire weekend then you need to be fired. That’s what happened to Mr. Njoku when he tried to cash a valid cashier’s check issued by his former bank:

Njoku signed up to have the rebate deposited directly into his Chase Bank account. But when the IRS rebate arrived, there was a problem. Chase had closed Njoku’s account because of overdrawn checks in the past. The bank deducted $600 to cover what he owed them and mailed him a cashier’s check for the difference–$8,463.21.

But when Njoku showed up at the Chase branch near his house intending to cash the check, he was in for a nasty surprise.

The check had Njoku’s name and address on it and was issued by JP Morgan Chase. But the Chase Customer Banker who handles large checks at the Auburn branch was immediately suspicious.

“I was embarrassed,” Njoku said. “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,” he said.

Here’s the thing, if a person comes into your bank with a cashier’s check issued by your bank it should be trivial to punch up records involving that check on your computer. I’m sure doing so would take all of five minutes. Instead the employee decided the check was fraudulent and called the police:

But when Njoku arrived, it wasn’t the money that was waiting for him.

“They just threw me in jail; they called the police and said this guy has a fraudulent check,” Njoku said.

Auburn police arrested him for forgery – a felony crime.

“I was like – you’re making a mistake, you’re making a mistake, don’t take me to jail, I got work tomorrow. I can’t afford to miss work,” he said.

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.

An innocent man spent an entire weekend in jail because some employee decided that man’s check was fraudulent. It would have taken all of five minutes to determine the legitimacy of the check and cashed it. But the worst part is the bank made nothing more than a half-assed attempt to inform the police of their huge fuck up. But this isn’t even the end of the story as Mr. Njoke also lost his car over the ordeal:

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.

So because of one asshole working at the bank an innocent man spent a weekend in jail, lost his job, and had his car stolen from him by the state. I’d say Mr. Njoku certainly has valid grounds for a lawsuit against the Bank being the cost him so much. Likely though the banksters will get away scott-free and the employee will keep her job. These are the types of situations that people can get into simply because of another person’s laziness.