WINTER PARK, FL – A Winter Park man said his bank refused to issue more than $3,700 stolen from his business account because he didn’t report the fraudulent ACH or Automated Clearing House entry within the required 24-hour period.
We can now report that the case has been reopened after News 6 launched an independent investigation.
Mike Mitchell of M&M Building Enterprises LLC, a small rental home company, told News 6 Wells Fargo’s complaint service closed his case on May 3.
Mitchell said he was disappointed with the system’s protocol.
“We basically pulled all 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 money.”
This standard, set by the National Automated Clearing House Association (NACCHA), says that a business transaction is eligible for a dispute between 24 hours and 3:00 PM Central Time.
In this case, Mitchell missed the 24-hour deadline for reporting ACH fraud by 2 hours and 34 minutes.
In an Oct. 3 letter to Mitchell, Wells Fargo said it denied the allegation because investigators “were unable to find” any indicators of fraud in the account.
When News 6 asked Mitchell what authorization was needed to transfer funds from the account, he said, “Obviously none because I didn’t authorize that transaction.”
News 6 has been in constant contact with Wells Fargo and late last week the bank confirmed that the investigation has 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 resolve payment disputes. We worked directly with our clients on this matter and filed a claim on their behalf.”
Mitchell told News 6 that a Wells Fargo investigator held a conference call with Mitchell and his brother and confirmed that the case has been reopened, but that “no promises can be made.”
The bank said it could not discuss the specifics of the case due to confidentiality 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 name listed on the bank file is Credit Card Payment.
Mitchell said he had never used the PayByPhone service, but he had a clue: One of the phone numbers included in the wire transfer information was a customer service number for Fifth Third Bank.
Mitchell told News 6 that bank managers admitted the money was transferred to Fifth Third Bank, but Wells Fargo never disclosed who received the funds or how they knew they were transferred to Fifth Third Bank.
A source familiar with the bank account protocol told News 6 the funds should have been returned, but that the bank cannot release account information even if it received funds fraudulently.
US Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Caroline O’Brien-Buster told News 6 that fraudulent ACH transfers are almost common and that account holders should monitor their bank accounts.
“It’s not a matter of if it’s going to happen,” O’Brien-Buster said. “When will it happen? So you have to be your own advocate.
Obrien-Buster emphasized that every account holder, business or consumer should check their accounts daily.
“Somebody didn’t go to a bank and do that,” Obrien-Buster said. “Everything was online. I can guarantee that.”
Get today’s headlines in minutes with Your Florida Daily:
Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando – All Rights Reserved.