Ikenna Njoku was jailed for four nights and five days after trying to cash a check at Chase Bank in Auburn, Washington.
After purchasing his first house a year ago, Njoku had qualified for a federal rebate for first-time home buyers on his tax return.
He requested to have the rebate deposited directly into his Chase bank account. When a hard copy of the IRS rebate arrived, Njoku discovered that Chase had closed his account because of overdrawn checks. The bank took $600 to cover the overdrawn checks and mailed him a cashier’s check of $8,463.21 to cover the difference.
When Njoku made the effort to cash the check, the teller immediately became suspicious.
“When I walked in, the teller looked me up and down and asked if I worked for Chase,” he said. “She asked me questions like where did I get the check from. I sat there for half an hour while they researched the check.”
Njoku became impatient and left the Chase bank branch to run an errand while they researched the check. But when he returned the bank was closed. Chase’s customer service told him to return the next day. When he did, bank officials insisted the check was fake. The police soon followed and arrested Njoku on forgery charges on Thursday June 24, 2010. While he was in jail, Chase realized their mistake and called the Auburn police detective handling the case. Unfortunately it was the detective’s day off and Chase did not make any other effort to set things straight.
He was held in jail for four nights, during which time his car was towed and ultimately auctioned off. He also missed work on Friday and was fired.
“He had two forms of valid ID, a check issued by Chase, he walked in there during normal business hours. I don’t see any valid basis for suspicion in the first place,” said Felix Luna, Njoku’s lawyer. The Seattle attorney took on Njoku’s case two months ago.
The first apology from the bank came only after local news source, KING 5, ran Njoku’s story more than a year after the incident. Njoku now holds an account at Wells Fargo and hopes no one else gets the same treatment he received over a year ago while further action is taken against Chase.
“This is ridiculous and appalling,” says Criminal Trial Lawyer, Avery Appelman. “This man lost his car, his job, and his dignity because the police and Chase rushed to judgment without any investigation whatsoever. They should be ashamed of themselves.”