'Panic mode.' Business owner claims checks worth thousands of dollars were left in limbo by Chase Bank
More people have come forward with complaints that their large check deposits were withheld by their bank for extended periods of time after a News 12 Investigates piece aired last week.
Carolyn DeVito, owner of Erika Cole Salon and Spa in Syosset, said the money she uses for her payroll, rent and bills was in limbo for days. After the collapse of Signature Bank, she closed her accounts on March 13 and deposited the certified checks that same day into new business accounts at Chase Bank.
Two days later, the money still was not showing in her accounts, even though they had been released from Signature Bank. When she called Chase, DeVito said she was told they were putting a 12-day extended hold on her account and did not offer an explanation.
"I went into panic mode. That was all my working capital," said DeVito. "I did not have 12 days. Try telling your employees there's no money in the bank to pay your payroll. I had to reach out to you, to News 12, because I felt like I didn't have a voice."
DeVito is not alone.
Kenneth Mollins, a personal injury attorney in Hauppague, said Chase put an 11-day hold on his client's $97,000 check deposit. The money was being deposited into an escrow account and the check came from another Chase Bank in Ohio.
Mollins said he had to go up the chain of command and contact Chase executives to get the check cleared.
"All they could say was 'Well, maybe it's fraud.' Well, 'maybe' doesn't satisfy federal regulations, but maybe the federal government should look into this and see why they're holding people's money improperly," Mollins said.
Team 12 Investigates reached out to Chase about these extended holds on large checks. Under federal law, banks must prove that a delay is reasonable if the funds are not made available to customers within five business days.
Shortly after Team 12 Investigates called Chase for answers, DeVito saw the money in her account.
"For privacy reasons, we can't discuss the specifics of this situation. In general, we give customers access to deposits once we're confident we'll receive the funds from the other bank. The time it takes depends on a number of variables," a Chase spokesperson said in a statement.
"So after pressure from you, the funds were released," DeVito said.
An 80-year-old woman from Amityville had a similar scare. Chase did not clear or return her $223,785.32 check deposit for two months. A Chase spokesperson said they initially thought there was an issue with the check and that two months is the standard timeframe for verification.
The bank released the money after her attorney filed a federal complaint with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), a bureau within the U.S. Treasury Department that regulates national banks.