An Ohio man trying to cash a real paycheck at a bank got an unwelcome surprise when the branch not only refused to cash the check, but also called the police on him.
“It was highly embarrassing, highly embarrassing,” Paul McCowns told WOIO-TV in Cleveland.
The incident took place Dec. 1 at the Huntington Bank in Brooklyn, Ohio, as McCowns tried cashing his paycheck for about $1,000.
“I had got a new job. I worked there for about three weeks,” he told the station.
After providing identification in the form of a driver’s license and Social Security card, along with a fingerprint per the bank’s policy for non-customers, bank employees began questioning the transaction.
“They tried to call my employer numerous times. He never picked up the phone,” McCowns explained.
When tellers refused to cash the check, McCowns then left, but was stopped by police.
“I get in my truck and the squad car pull in front of me and he says get out the car,” he said.
McCowns did not know the bank had called the authorities.
On the 9-1-1 recording, a teller told police: “He’s trying to cash a check and the check is fraudulent. It does not match our records.”
Police handcuffed McCowns and put him in the back of a squad car. In a matter of minutes, authorities were able to contact the employer who confirmed the check was, in fact, legitimate.
“My employer said yes he works for me. He just started and yes, my payroll company does pay him that much,” McCowns explained.
He was able to cash the check at another Huntington branch the following day.
McCowns, who is black, believes he was a victim of racial profiling.
“It hurts. It really hurts,” he said.
A representative for the bank told WOIO there have been 11 cases of fraud at that specific branch in the past few months, and tellers were being extra vigilant.
Huntington issued a statement to the station, saying:
“We sincerely apologize to Mr. McCowns for this extremely unfortunate event. We accept responsibility for contacting the police as well as our own interactions with Mr. McCowns. Anyone who walks into a Huntington branch should feel welcomed. Regrettably, that did not occur in this instance and we are very sorry. We hold ourselves accountable to the highest ethical standards in how we operate, hire and train colleagues, and interact with the communities we have the privilege of serving.”
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