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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 16358
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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I recently had a small business check sent to me to cash for

Customer Question

I recently had a small business check sent to me to cash for a friend. The check was written out to my small business account. It was a canadian check. I am here in florida. my friend was overseas and needed money wired faster than a check could be done... i agreed as long as my bank cleared it.... figuring they'd know if the check was good. They put a 2day hold even though their policy was for at least a 5-20 day hold for Canada. I was oblivious to all this... just depended on them. They cleared the check in 2 days and gave me cash and bank checks which i also cashed. I only had time to wire 2/3 of the money to my friend. After 3 days of various calls to say i shouldnt have taken the money with only a 2day hold, they call to tell me the check is fraudulent. I insist on documentation. They give me a letter from the small business. I give back the remaining 1/3. my friend promises to wire 2/3 and disappears. 1. Am I liable for the 2/3 they disappeared with?2. DoIneed atty?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  lwpat replied 5 years ago.
It sounds like you have been scammed by a professional that does this for a living. The person is not your friend, they are a crook that preys on other people for a living. Unfortunately this happens every day and you are now responsible for the loss. Sorry but you have been taken in and there is little that can be done due to the various jurisdictions involved.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I guess I don't totally understand why the bank is not at least partially responsible for clearing the check (even against their own 5+day hold policy) as even when I deposited it, I remarked to the staff it was the first one I had ever received from that company and I wanted to make sure "it was good" before using funds. And, they all knew I asked them to double check that the funds were really cleared that day before their giving me funds which they double-checked and said "it's all good." Does the law hold them blameless when I depended on them? I'm not a financial expert... they are... And, the second half of the question you didn't answer... do I need an attorney to help me with this to work out an agreement with the bank for whatever I am responsible for or do I just work directly with the bank? You have left me confused and feeling even more vulnerable. brenda
Expert:  lwpat replied 5 years ago.

I'm sorry but confused and vulnerable is how most people feel after they realize that they have been scammed. As to the attorney, it really depends on the amount. An attorney is going probably want a retainer of around 2000.00. There may be some liability on the bank based on your conversations with them that the check had cleared.

 

At the present time your two options are to let an attorney try to negotiate or negotiate with them yourself.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I'm not comfortable acceepting an answer that seems just to be a comment anyone could have made among my circle of friends. My question dealt with asking more about the bank's liability as I was referencing UCC code in myown mind that I found on the internet. Seems to me i got an opinion of my situation which i didnt ask for. I wanted an answer about bank liability and getting and atty. You answered the atty l/2 though it wasnt helpful in the context in which it was couched. Seems that banks would be more accountable especially when they are questioned by and depended upon by their customers.... i feel pretty ripped off by the bank as much as the fraudulent check. I did not take any of the monies for myself. I returned l/3 that i had left to the bank and the other monies went to the person asking me to cash the check for them ONLY because the bank said the monies were cleared for the bank to GIVE me the monies. Seems banks have insurances to deal with these crimes... i'm a simple, small business person with no resources to give. If i had the other monies, i'd give them to them and am still working through the foreign bank that supposedly wired the money via phone and email to track the wire transfer # XXXXX me. I'm sorry, if you can give me an answer to the main part of the question about bank liability, i'd be happy to accept. i just feel unanswered and unhelped.
Expert:  lwpat replied 5 years ago.

When you applied for your account at the bank you signed an agreement regarding the liability of the bank in such a situation. To know if the bank has any liability, someone would have to look at that contract. Banks have very good attorneys so it is probably airtight and allows them to chargeback to you any dishonored checks. Every one I have seen does.

 

As stated above, the bank may have some liability based on the conversations with the tellers. Depending on the amount if may pay you to seek legal counsel to try and either negotiate something with the bank or take them to court. That is a personal decision I cannot make for you.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I just feel stunned that the bank has no solid liability... they are the financial experts, not me. That's why everyday people go to banks... for their expertise. And, what about the federal UCC code for banks' liability with fraudulent checks... ? That's what I was hoping you would have expertise beyond me knowing to ask the bank to work with me (what you call negotiating) as I am not involved with this other than doing someone a favor and making sure the bank told me the check was good and funds were available. Do I file a police report as a crime victim to have it on record? It's been a week since I've tried to get funds bank from the person I did this for and only one partial "hello" on the phone and it disconnected. And, the bank is leaving all the research up to me right now. Feel pretty overwhelmed.
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 5 years ago.
I know exactly how you feel. You've been personally violated, and I don't mean that in a legal sense but as relating to your emotional state.

Absolutely go to the police and fill out an incident report as a crime victim. Also, as this person is using the internet to break the law, you should report him to the FBI's cyber unit. You can find out how to do that here. Your friend is in violation not just of US laws but of international laws as well, and the same agency will handle both aspects of that. Perhaps something will come of this, perhaps not, but you'll feel better knowing that you've taken some charge of the situation and done all that you can. You might also want to contact Match.com and alert them to a predator using their site for personal gain. This last suggestion is not to "have this on record," but again, to help you get closure.

As to the bank, the expert who wrote did not say that the bank had no liability. He said he couldn't tell you without looking at your contract with the bank. Additionally, if a bank employee gave you incorrect information which you relied upon to your detriment, there may be some legal civil recourse available for you. You have not said how much money was involved here, but you may well want to do what the expert suggested and retain a local civil attorney.

At the very least, you should find a local attorney experienced in the area of bank liability who offers a free consultation and who could apprise you more fully of your rights and chances for success. Good luck!
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Fran,

 

I appreciate your comments about closure but I handle that with a stress counselor now.

I have been swamped since your reply with more contact from this overseas friend promising me to rewire the monies that "somehow got interuppted from wiring by his lawyer." Being a devout Christian, I hoped, though aware not probable, that this person had re-appeared on his own to rectify the situation or a portion of it. So far, he did not meet the bank deadline of yesterday for the monies to be wired unless he simply couldnt get out of the hospital where he said he was having typhoid treated the past two weeks.

 

My primary concern is making every effort to get the money from him and/or from the other overseas people who sent the check thru me to him for a return to the bank.

 

My secondary concern which is becoming IMMEDIATE is the bank. They have asked me to come up a "payment plan" by Tuesday 6/17/09. They will NOT negotiate any part of liability in this though, as far as I am concerned, they are MORE liable than I am as I verbalized 6 times with their staff (4 face/face and 2 over the phone) that I needed to know from them the check was "good" before taking any withdrawals because I had never done business with this third party business/check before.

 

You reply to me to find an atty with liability experience but that's like me saying in healthcare, go talk to some case manager like me with managed care background to orchestrate the care and death disposition of your beloved mother. As a professional, I would give the person seeking help SPECIFIC ways, places or even names in the their local areas to get help from. How am I supposed to know as a lay person and a VICTIM where to begin to look? Your answer to me is comparable to my own market research on the internet ... I would like to accept an answer from JUSTAnswer but I need concrete help to point me in a direction of finding a SPECIFIC lawyer... where do I begin? Palm Beach County, FL where I live has thousands of attorneys... no one I know knows who does what kind of law... it's NOT in the yellow pages, white pages, internet, chamber directory ad infinitum. PLEASE SOMEHOW GIVE ME SOMETHING TANGIBLE TO GO TO FOR HELP... I do it all day long 24/7 for people in medical services... can't someone in legal do the same? Please?

 

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 5 years ago.
Good morning. Sorry if I got heavy-handed with the empathy. I was was a victim once of identity theft involving a guy I'd been involved with and had trusted. It was minor by comparison -- unauthorized use of a credit card for a small amount -- and easy to rectify. But I remember how stunned I felt and how violated.

Enough of that, however. I am not a Florida attorney and know no lawyer personally in your area to whom I could refer you. However, the Palm Beach County Bar Association has a Lawyer Referral and Information Service and should be able to set you up with a civil lawyer who can handle your case. You will want a lawyer who knows his bank liability law and is experienced representing consumers in those suits, rather than the bank.

Their phone numbers are (561)(NNN) NNN-NNNNor(NNN) NNN-NNNN(Boca/Delray).

To quote their website: "The Lawyer Referral Service offers a one-half hour appointment with the kind of attorney you need for a $30 fee (fee waived for personal injury cases). The lawyer you see charges no fee for his/her consultation for that half hour appointment. Referrals are also made to appropriate social service agencies when deemed appropriate.
"

This looks like a pretty good deal to me.

If I've helped, please click the green Accept button so I can get credit for my work.

This thread will not close and you can always use it to get clarification.This is informational only and is NOT legal advice.
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 16358
Experience: Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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