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 Please remove any money you have with BOA and e-mail us the amount you’ve withdrawn.”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:

    [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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.