Economic crime expert says U.S. Army Reservist who says he was bilked out of more than $25,000 while stationed in Afghanistan does have a case
UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - Suzanne Lynch is the Director of Utica College's Economic Crime Management Masters Program.
She says when she heard about the story we aired here on WKTV regarding a local U.S. Army Reservist who said he was bilked out of more than $25,000, it peaked her interest.
We first brought you the story of U.S. Army Reservist John McDevitt of Clayville on Saturday.
That's when he held up a sign outside the Bank of America branch on Mohawk Street in Utica on Saturday reading "A soldier that puts America first should have a bank that puts the soldier first."
McDevitt, who served in Afghanistan in 2010 for a year, says that while he was there, he had two weeks of leave called 'R&R'.
He took those two weeks to go to a place he had always dreamed of going: Athens, Greece.
However, while in Greece, McDevitt says he lost $25,000, money that he says he'd been saving to pay for his daughter's upcoming wedding.
McDevitt says he went to a nightclub in Athens called Palia Plaka in November 2010, and paid for a couple of drinks using his Bank of America debit card.
Two weeks later, when he got back to his base in Afghanistan, he says he checked his Bank of America account online, and saw six charges had been deducted from his account for a total of $25,243.71, all from the nightclub Palia Plaka.
McDevitt says he wrote to Bank of America and protested, saying that's not his signature.
"They investigated and investigated and here we are a year and a half later and they say they aren't responsible for this at all," McDevitt said.
According to a statement released on Saturday by Bank of America Media Relations Coordinator T.J. Crawford to WKTV, Crawford says "I can't discuss Mr. McDevitt's account due to customer privacy concerns. However, I can tell you that with any fraud claim, there is a very thorough review process we go through to verify its authenticity."
McDevitt says he only signed a receipt for a couple of drinks, not six charges totaling more than $25,000.
"And you know, the sad part is most of that money was for my daughter's wedding," McDevitt said. "I saved all that money and then now it's gone."
McDevitt says he doesn't know where to go from here. He says that all he can do now is what he is told to do by Bank of America.
"All they keep telling me is that I need to fight the merchant in Athens Greece," he said.
On Monday, after reading the correspondence between Bank of America and John McDevitt, which McDevitt provided to WKTV, Professor Lynch of Utica College said it appears Bank of America did everything in McDevitt's case correctly under the law.
Lynch says the bank put the money back into McDevitt's account within ten days while the fraud claim was being reported, and once, in its view, the bank determined this wasn't a case of fraud, the bank took the funds back out. So, she says Bank of America did everything correct under the Federal Law.
Lynch says she believes McDevitt's claim that he did not sign those sales slips and says he should do as Bank of America told him to do: go after the merchant in Greece. She says it will be expensive, but it is his only recourse under the law.
This past Friday, after a year and a half process of dealing with Bank of America, McDevitt says he received a final letter from Bank of America stating he must take up his complaint with the merchant. That's when he contacted the people from Occupy Utica who have been so vocal about the nation's banking institutions since last summer.
Saturday morning, some involved with Occupy Utica joined John McDevitt in protesting outside his home branch of Bank of America on Mohawk Street in Utica.
After the lengthy investigation, the final letter to McDevitt from Bank of America reads, "After further examination of the facts of the case, our decision regarding your claim stands firm and no credits will be issued to your account for these charges."