This is my first post to the forum and unfortunately it is not just to say hello. I have a slightly intricate problem involving a personal check. The situation is as follows: I placed a vehicle for sale on ebay in January. An individual (John) decided to purchase the vehicle from me outside of ebay. He sent a check in the amount of $9200. The check was from his personal account in Bank of America. I deposited the check in my bank account at North Fork Bank on January 29th. Due to the amount, the check took about two weeks to clear (banks place a longe hold on checks over 5000 for “security purposes”). Prior to the check clearing, John got impatient and wanted the vehicle before. I called my bank as well as bank of America and both banks told me that there was no way that John could place a stop payment on the funds. Regardless, I drafted a letter releasing me from liability (John wanted to drive the car off with no insurance). I required that John notarize the letter for me. John showed up and “forgot his identification” thus I refused to give him the car. Eventually I took the money that had cleared and used it to purchase another vehicle. In the meantime, I still had the vehicle that I had sold to John, awaiting for him to “come back from a cruise” to pick up the car. Weeks went by, and when I went to the bank to withdraw money, I found out that my account was frozen on March the 6th due to the fact that the 9200 check that I deposited was claimed to be fraudulent.
To make a very long story short, a fraud investigator at Bank of America was assigned. I sent her the 50 (yes, 50!!) email communications that I had with John during the course of the transaction. I also pointed her to the ebay handle that he used, the phone numbers that he gave me, and the memo that he sent with the check. John’s ebay handle had a negative feedback (after my transaction with him) left by another seller stating that John paid with a fraudulent check and a police report had been filed (this was a check for the amount of 320 dollars, so apparently, John ripped someone else off for an item in that amount).
The investigator told me that she suspected that John was giving his personal checks out to a friend and having that friend fill out the check and, after the item that he intended to “buy” was received, John was putting in claims that someone had stolen his check, thus getting both the item and his money back (this is one hell of a loophole!!!)
Either way, she said that she could not prove that someone else wrote the check (to which I suggested that she run the IP address and find out who sent the emails….she seemed too lazy to do this though and stated that she was not going to go outside the facts….whatever that means!) The investigator also told me that northfork has no access to the signature files for Bank of America, thus they followed procedures (although I emphasized that the check had been cleared for a month before John claimed fraud and that Northfork had even withheld the funds due to the amount for security purposes). Finally, the investigator said that she determined that the check was fraudulent and I have to give the money back.
In the meantime, Northfork closed my account and gave me the money in the account, stating that they wanted nothing to do with the matter.
Now, my question is whether I have any right to anything here or whether I will eventually have to give Bank of America their money back and take the loss of paying parking for the car that has been stationed through this whole ordeal waiting for its new “owner”. Also, I am a student with a lot of debt and very limited funds…coming up with 9200 will be tough!
To further complicate matters, I am in law school and will be going before the character and fitness committee soon (hopefully ;-) Is there any way that this can affect me (the fact that a fraud investigator from Bank of America determined that a fraudulent check has been deposited into my account)
Until this day, I have yet to hear from Bank of America and they have yet to demand their money, although the investigator did state that the bank asks for Northfork to pay and when Northfork denies, then they will come looking for me.
Any help is greatly appreciated, and sorry about the length!!
PS: I have learned my lesson...never accept a personal check from a stranger because apparently, a check never "clears"!