They should rename it Bank of A-holes!!!

San Francisco resident Matthew Shinnick tried to sell a pair of mountain bikes on Craigslist late last year. He attracted a buyer, received a check in the mail — and ended up handcuffed by police in a downtown Bank of America branch and jailed for almost 12 hours.

BofA calls the bizarre episode “an unfortunate series of events.”

Shinnick… stopped by a BofA branch near Union Square in early January. He said he asked a teller if sufficient funds existed in the BofA business account to cover the check.

“She said it was a valid account and that there were funds to cover it,” Shinnick recalled. “I said, ‘Great,’ and asked to cash the check.”

“A few minutes later, four SFPD officers came into the bank. They didn’t say a thing. They just kicked my legs apart and handcuffed me behind my back.”

In July, a San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled that Shinnick was innocent by “findings of fact” — a decision that essentially erases all record of the case.

But by this time, Shinnick said, he’d spent about $14,000 clearing his name. He wanted that money back and he felt BofA should pay it.

BofA felt otherwise. Earlier this month, a bank vice president, William Minnes, wrote to Shinnick’s lawyer to say that “Bank of America can certainly understand that your client is angry at the bank.”

However, he said, BofA has no legal liability in the case because of [a] 2004 Supreme Court ruling. Minnes warned that “litigation would not prove financially beneficial.”

Consumer talk show maven Clark Howard got interested in the case and is urging people to protest Bank of America’s indifference to Shinnick’s plight by taking their money out of BOA. “All he [Shinnick] and Clark asked was that BOA cover Matthew’s legal fees but BOA has refused…. Please remove any money you have with BOA and e-mail us the amount you’ve withdrawn.” He’s even got a “BOA Money Loss Meter” on his site you can check out. Gotta love Clark!



  1. Dust in the wind says:

    # 6 darkmane said, on September 21st, 2006 at 10:02 pm

    “They’re assholes because someone else tried to scam him? Or because rather than cashing what they knew to be a fraudulent check they called the cops?

    Sounds to me like people are pissed at the wrong individuals, they guy trying to scam Shinnick is the real person people should be pissed at, but they don’t know who that is so they decide to be pissed at Bank of America since they are an “evil corporation” and have money.

    They forget the Bank of America’s money is actually everyone who has deposited money in the banks money, and the only thing that BofA did “wrong” was report a crime in progress.”

    Then what do you do with this? I deposited over $500 cash in BOA. I had two checking accounts and three savings accounts with them.None of them had ever been in the negative, and I never had a single overdraft with BofA. The next day I received a check from a Canadian Company I wasn’t expecting for $69,109. Because I wanted to be on the level and was suspicious about the check, I went to my branch and asked them what was the right thing to do. I was told that the check scanned okay and that I needed to deposit it in one of my savings account. They would put a hold on it and only when the check cleared would I have access to the funds. They assured me that this would protect me. I was fool enough to believe them. Two days later I checked my online banking and all five accounts were showing being overdrawn by $888,000. I immediately thought a thief had used the information to hack into my accounts and somehow steal money from me and from BofA. I was partly right. BofA was the thief. I called their head of Bank Fraud and was told that the check was counterfeit as I suspected, and instead of thanking me and congratulating me for not trying to cash it and potentially losing that sum of money for BofA and obtaining funds I couldn’t afford to repay, I was informed that they were closing all five of my accounts and that the cash money I had just put into their thieving hands the day before for my house and utility payments would be seized, and no money would be released to me until the closing process was complete (which took over a month). I am involved in a long process involving senators and government regulatory agencies to try and obtain some satisfaction on this. They hurt my credibility with the utility companies, the landlord, and all those who had to wait until I had earned money to cover the debts I deposited money to pay. Oh yes, BofA, since they were showing me in a negative balance, and because I had the “deposit the change into savings” thingee, charged me $36 because the change was from an account showing a negative when THEY took money from it and transferred it to the savings account, which was in a negative balance and sucked it up, all because of BofA. They wound up stealing over $100 of our money before we got any of it back. They are thieves and any decent member of this society has a moral duty to try and put a stop to them. I wouldn’t have an account with them now if they paid ME $1000 per month to have my name on it.

  2. Dust in the wind says:

    I forgot to mention that I offered them the name, phone number and address of the guy sending the check. They weren’t interested in him at all, and to this date, are not trying to find out why he sent me the check or tried to defraud the bank and myself.

    It turned out that a lady I knew was being scammed by him, and that she had the check sent to me because she didn’t want to give him her location and name…a wise move. It was a Doctor Anthony Smith with a US number. The name might be baloney, but he isn’t. I talked to him twice to ask him what was going on. He just said that it’d all be cleared up soon, and he was sure they’d be no problem…yeah, RIGHT!!

    Bottom line? BofA does not protect their own, but are quick to make victims of this sort of things, a victim of BofA as well. Got a grudge against yourself and your family? Bank with them. Hasn’t happened to you yet? It will, even when you try to be 100% right in all that you do. Go ahead, be a fool and trust them with your money. There a few thousand just like them in Nigeria, and you’re at least lied to and flattered by them…no wait! Bank of America does that too! Guess we’ll find out they’re just another Nigerian scam one day.

    Don’t be a fool, get your money out while you can and find a good bank like Woodforest National Bank. Regions has been fairly straight by me for over a decade too.

  3. Dust in the wind says:

    (SN said, on September 22nd, 2006 at 3:07 am

    “there IS no immunity, or shouldnt be”

    In the US you have absolute immunity to make a report to the police. There are no exceptions. Even if you can prove they person who made the report was lying and knew he was lying, it simply doesn’t matter.)

    True, and that’s when it becomes a civil tort and the person falsely accused should take advantage of the opportunity to sue them. Personally I believe to falsely accuse someone should give you the maximum penalty they accused could have been given if found guilty. This would hold true for the prosecuting attorney if they were the one’s charging them as well.

  4. Dust in the wind says:

    [deepblue said, on September 22nd, 2006 at 5:49 am

    Does nobody consider that Mr Shinnick holds some responsibility? His story is a bit fishy, if you read the whole article. First, he negotiates a price of $600 for bikes, then gets a check for $2000. Who does that, really? He let his greed cloud his thinking.

    Then, instead of depositing the check, like most people would, he tries to cash it. If he thought the check might bounce, why would you want to cash it? My guess is he thought that if it bounced, he’d still have his cash, which, btw, is theft.

    So, he knew the transaction was questionable, and just in case, tried to have the bank take the loss. I can’t feel that sympathetic for the guy. The guy did nothing illegal, but he acted indistinguishably from a criminal, and I think intentionally (cash a $2000 possibly fraudulent check – come on). My biggest issue is that it took $14000 in fees to clear things up. There is obviously an issue with the system that requires that kind of money to resolve any legal problem.]

    Okay then read my earlier post for the result of doing what you advise. You might be right about the above, but when you follow your own advise and your family’s hard earned cash is stolen by them, remember how noble and good BofA is.

  5. Dust in the wind says:

    [# 36 Robert Krause said, on September 22nd, 2006 at 7:51 pm

    A similar incident happened to me some years ago. I received a check from a company which was in some financial difficulty at the time. I rushed to their bank, asked the same question, “was it good”, received the same answer, “yes, it’s a valid account with sufficient funds” and tried to cashed the check. Fifteen minutes later I’m still standing there while the clerk talks to several other people, all the while giving me surreptitious looks. They finally did cash the check. Long story short, I didn’t go there to scam the bank. I went there to make sure the check was good. If the bank had told me that it was not, I could have gone back to the people who gave it to me and gotten them to give me cash or a certified check. It turns out that a few hours later, the owner came in and closed the account (I had a felling that was going to happen, does that make my actions “like” a criminal). If I would have deposited it into my account I would have been SOL. I would have been responsible for the fees involved for depositing a bounced check as well as for all the checks that I might have bounced. My point being, there are all kinds of reasons people try to cash checks, I suspect most of them are legitimate.]

    If it had been BofA your accounts would have been closed and you would have been treated like a criminal no matter what you did. At least you got your money.

  6. Dust in the wind says:

    [# 40 James.J.Kirk said, on September 22nd, 2006 at 10:46 pm

    I hate BoA too; but they did just the right thing and should not be held liable.
    If a person carrying a phony check steps into a bank, calling the police is *just* what they should do. Sometiems phony chekcs ar given to a third person; but sometimes, the counterfeiter tries to cash on himself – so this guy was reasonably a suspect; if you don’t like the police treatment of suspects, deal with the police.

    And on the public policy side, if a bank were made to pay $14K when they reported a $2K fraudelant check, then the bank, being good at math, would simply NOT call the police in similar fraudolant cases – which is just the opposite of what we as society want to see happen.]

    First, please do not claim to represent society.’
    Secondly, if BofA is an example of what is right, then we need to apologize to Hitler an Saddam Hussein.
    Thirdly there is no United States when we start caring more about protecting the rights of a business institution than the right of an individual. There is no government of the BofA, By the BofA and for the BofA.
    Fourthly, you’re an idiot. Oops, I just exercised freedom of speech. I gotta run the thought police can’t be too far away. I learned about them in the BofA handbook…I believe it had “1984” written on it.

  7. Dust in the wind says:

    [# 58 Lisa said, on October 1st, 2006 at 9:51 am

    Here is my view on things:

    Asking the teller if there is enough funds in the acct is different than asking if the check is valid.

    According to the papers the man first went in asked the teller if there was enough funds in the account to cover a $2,000.00 check. Teller said “yes”

    The man then handed over the check, the teller ran the check through the system an alert came up at that time that there was fraud on the acct. Concerned about that the teller did her job. She called the company to see if they wrote this check to the man in front of her (if they did he gets the money) They say no. That means it is not a valid check but fraud.

    So the teller goes to manager, tells the manager what just took place. In the best interest of their customer (the company who owned the acct) the manager reports this to the police.

    BOA did their job. End of Story!!!

    Where the issue arises (again according to the papers)
    Was when the police became involved.

    The police never read the man his rights. They left him handcuffed in the front lobby in front of BOA customers for 45 mins while they took the report from the BOA staff. (this was the police doings not BOA)

    The police should have put them man in the police car, took the names of the BOA employees and told them they needed to come down to the station to file a report against the man.

    So if he is upset over the embarrassment he experienced, it would be at the fault of the criminal who wrote him the check and how the police chose to handle the situation upon their arrival, not the banks fault.

    Also per the papers he admits to seeing red flags when receiving the check and saw it was $1.400.00 more than originally agreed upon, however he chose to cash it instead of asking the teller to verify if it was a good check.

    Come on..who is going to pay you an extra $1,400.00 from a company acct for used bikes. Just for your time and niceness.

    It kills me how the general public just doesn’t have common sense anymore (don’t know why we call it common sense, since no one really has it, its not so common any more..lol)
    And no one wants to take responsibility for their own actions and continue to place the blame on others.

    Well thank you for letting me voice my view on things. Gotta love America were we all are able to disagree with each other.

    Oh on one last note:

    As a victim of fraud on her own acct, I applaud BOA for doing a job well done. I wish my bank would have done the same and prevented my car, insurance and mortgage payments from being returned due to nsf since some fraud check cleared my acct and left me with nothing. It took 6 months for me to clear up with my bank it was fraud not me and to recover from all fees assessed from the fees for the bounce checks (from the companies who i wrote them to, the bank after i proved it was fraud refund all they assessed]

    Lisa while I agree that no one should be victimized and that banks should protect their customers, this bank victimizes their customers.
    If you receive a check and deposit it, then I can see charging a moderate fee for processing it if it turns out to be bad, but I have owned several businesses and I recall that the vast majority of the businesses I received checks from had written bad checks at some time or another. Many were by accident, some by poor bookkeeping, and some were writing hot checks, period. Receiving a hot check does not make you a criminal whether you cash it, deposit it, or use it for toilet tissue. Writing one, knowing it is not negotiable, is criminal. Pulling the classic overwriting scam is criminal, passing a counterfeit check is criminal, but may I remind every poster of one fact. This is America, or what is left of it, and at least stated policy, if not practiced, is that we are all “INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT”!!! The burden of proof as to whether a crime has been committed is on BofA and whoever signed the complaint, and they should be FULLY responsible for their actions, just as they wanted him to be.

  8. Dust in the wind says:

    [libertyvital said, on October 1st, 2006 at 8:07 pm

    "3. Passing a bad check is a crime. Once the facts were revealed the bank had nothing to do with it. “Did he try to pass a fraudulent check? yes. Do they know who he is? No. Did the bank protect their customer. Yes."

    "8 all this stuff about pressing charges and good will to the customer (which he was not) are not even germane to the story.
    He was knowingly or unknowingly committing a crime. That was not for Bof A to determine. They did their job correctly.]”

    One word. Tee-Hee
    As for #3: The FIRST person who committed a crime was the one that signed the check and attempted the scam. The man being scammed was a victim unless there is proof of intent to abet the scammer, which you do not have.

    # 8? There we have the SECOND person who committed a crime…the person who pressed the charges against the man with out proof that he was attempting to defraud the bank. If it’s a crime to receive a bad check and deposit it, then there wouldn’t be enough people left out of prison to populate a hot tub.

    #6: “6. The bank did not arrest him. The bank did not detain him and the bank had no obligation or right to detain, investigate or interogate him. Only the police could do that.”

    Despite the spelin erors en it, you need to change the word “obligation” to “right”. What the did was inexcusable and can only be put down to human error at best.

  9. Dust in the wind says:

    [# 61 France said, on October 2nd, 2006 at 11:44 am

    How many crooks do you know that will admit wrongdoing? 0 to none. Of course the guy is going to claim he didn’t know anything, he’s not dumb! He either let greed get the better of him, or he was in on the scam. None of us were there to see what the police did or did not do, and a person does NOT have to be read his/her rights “at the scene,” it’s done prior to interrogation (criminal justice classes are very informative…) It’s so very easy to hear just one side of the story…the suspect who claims to be a victim. If the account was “flagged” and the owner said they didn’t authorize the charge…this is very clear. However, the news/media is very good at making things sound worse than they are…”Innocent man jailed for simply trying to verify check.” How about, “Suspect caught attempting to cash a fraudulent check?” This sounds more accurate.]

    People generally see what they want to see in anything. You choose to take the view of a prosecuting attorney, most of us are taking the view of an American citizen with certain “inalienable rights” given to us to protect against this type of mentality. Good day.

  10. Dust in the wind says:

    [69 For SFPD said, on October 22nd, 2006 at 7:54 pm

    If I read the second blue paragraph correctly, Shinnick was quoted as saying that, “he asked a teller if sufficient funds existed in the BofA business account to cover the check.” He also goes on to say that the teller, “said it was a valid account and that there were funds to cover it.” So how and why does he claim to have been set up? The account WAS valid and DID have funds, but because of lost or stolen checks, the account holder “flagged” the account for possible fraud…and whoa and behold, along comes poor (sarcasm) Shinnick trying to cash a check for a higher amount than expect…

    Those of you who have been victims of fraud, would you like the police to warn the thief that they’re about to catch him so that he can get away? Did he expect the teller to tell him this? Sorry, but you you don’t warn a robber that you are about to catch him, otherwise he’ll run.]

    Sorry, but that doesn’t hold water. I HAVE been the victim of fraud and have on three separate occasions receive counterfeit or bad checks or money orders, to the tune of thousands of dollars. Unless you can PROVE intent in a court of law beyond a shadow of doubt, you are whistling in the wind, and I’m afraid it’s a bit off-key at that. Even if the check had been good, and Shinnick had cashed it, the guy writing the check would probably have had to sue him to get the overage back. The way the scam works is that you depend on the good-hearted soul to send you back what you paid over the correct amount.

    Back at you, those of you who have been victims of fraud and scam, do you believe that the right thing to do is to be defrauded, scammed and wrongfully arrested by a money grubbing conglomerate “Big Brother” because you were victimized? You think like a prosecuting attorney.

  11. Dust in the wind says:

    [Frank IBC said, on September 22nd, 2006 at 7:09 am

    I just noticed that the “buyer” of the alleged bikes was supposedly in Canada.

    What kind of shipping charges could you expect to ship two bikes from San Francisco to Canada?]
    [69 For SFPD said, on October 22nd, 2006 at 7:54 pm]

    Maybe more than you might expect. I bid on a clarinet on ebay from China. I won it for only $9, and was ecstatic until the $225 shipping charges were added. They still sell there. Beautiful instruments, beautiful profit, huh?

    • ERRICK WRIGHT says:

      The gentleman shoud sue BofA and SFPD under 42 U.S.C. s. 1983 for civil rights violations.

  12. mikey says:

    When the teller told him the check was good, he was trying to cash a check that, upon good authority, he believed to be bona fide.

    If the teller told him the check was bad, and then he had tried to cash it, he would have been trying to cash a check that he knew was bad.

    Whether or not the check was bad — didn’t matter. The teller lied to him. The teller initiated his attempt to cash the check. The teller called the police and accused him of knowingly trying to cash a bad check. The bank, acting through its employee, did the illegal act (fraud). The bank used “criminal means” in conducting banking, which is a Federal offense. I’d sue the bank.

  13. Kass says:

    I got a check in the mail that said it was from a law suit against a drug company that had charged too much for the prescriptions filled. I’d bought from them. I took the check to my local BOA, $200, and asked if it looked like a good check. The clerk said it was on a known bank and looked good. I put it in my savings account, not cashing it out right in case it bounced. It was good.

    If it had been bogus the bank would have taken the money back out of my savings account. End of story.

    Getting a check for more than you ask is a red flag that somethings not kosher.