WINTER PARK, Fla. – A Winter Park man said his bank refused to issue more than $3,700 hundred stolen from his business account because he did not report the fraudulent ACH, or Automated Clearing House entry, within the mandated 24-hour timeframe.
Now, we can report the case has been reopened after News 6 launched an independent investigation.
Mike Mitchell, of M&M Building Enterprises LLC, a small home rental company, told News 6 that Wells Fargo’s Enterprise Complaints Office closed his case on May 3.
Mitchell said he was frustrated by the system protocol.
“We have basically pulled all of our money out of Wells Fargo because it’s not safe there,” Mitchell told News 6. “And if you don’t notify somebody by 3 o’clock, bye-bye money.”
That standard, set by the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACCHA), says a business transaction has a dispute right of 24 hours and 3 p.m. Central Time.
In this case, Mitchell missed the 24-hour deadline to report ACH fraud by 2 hours and 34 minutes.
In a letter to Mitchell dated October 3, Wells Fargo said it denied the claim because investigators “were not able to find” any indicators of fraud on the account.
When News 6 asked Mitchell what authorization was needed to transfer funds from the account, he responded: “Apparently none because I didn’t authorize this transaction.”
News 6 has been in constant contact with Wells Fargo and late last week the bank confirmed the investigation had been reopened.
In a statement to News 6, a bank spokesperson wrote, ”We take customer concerns seriously. We thoroughly investigate all customer claims and provide support to help businesses address payment disputes. We have worked directly with our customer on this matter and pursued a claim on their behalf.”
Mitchell told News 6 that a Wells Fargo investigator conducted a conference call with Mitchell and his brother and confirmed the case had been reopened but that “no promises could be made.”
The bank said it could not discuss specifics of the case because of privacy issues.
News 6 obtained Mitchell’s bank records and found the funds were transferred to an online parking fee service called PayByPhone.
Oddly enough, the merchant’s name listed on the bank file is Credit Card Payment.
Mitchell said he has never used the PayByPhone service, but he did have a clue: one of the phone numbers included in the bank paper transfer information was a customer service number for Fifth Third Bank.
Mitchell told News 6 that bank managers admitted the money had been transferred to Fifth Third Bank but that Wells Fargo never revealed who received the funds or how they knew it was transferred to Fifth Third Bank.
A source familiar with bank account protocol told News 6 that the funds should have been reversed but that the bank cannot give out information on an account even if it received funds fraudulently.
U.S Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Caroline Obrien-Buster told News 6 fraudulent ACH transfers are almost commonplace and that account holders need to monitor their bank accounts.
“It’s not a matter of is it going to happen,” Obrien-Buster said. “When is it going to happen? So you have to be your own advocate.”
Obrien-Buster stressed that any account holder, business or consumer should check their accounts daily.
“Somebody didn’t go into a bank and do this,” Obrien-Buster said. “It was all online. I can guarantee that.”
If you have a consumer or banking issue, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com or text the words make ends meet, along with your contact information and issue, to 407-676-7428.
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