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Bank of America Calls $30K Social Security Account Deposit Screw Up Unfortunate

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by hearit

hearit's picture
In The News

Bank of America has millions of customers--making it seem impossible for two customers to have the same 10-digit account number, which should theoretically allow the bank billions of customers ever without duplicating a number. Unfortunately B of A made a screw-up that allowed the sharing of an identical number for two years--and deposit of $30,000 in Social Security payments to the wrong account. Bank of America is casual about the misplaced funds, saying simply, it "does happen occasionally."
The L.A. Times' David Lazarus reported on 88-year-old Robert Weber -- a retiree who had banked with the B of A financial institution for more than half a century: 60 years. Weber was a World War II vet employed 30 years as a machinist in Southern California, in the aerospace industry. In December 2010, Weber's son and grandson began looking into the senior's bank accounts after suspecting the man was no longer able or capable of handling day-to-day maintenance of finances. What they noticed was cause for alarm: Lazarus apparently hadn't received a Social Security payment since March 2009--automatic payments which should have been directly deposited to the Bank of America account.
The B of A branch reportedly says the account number was changed in 2009 -- due to unspecified "suspicious activity". Bank of America claims it notified Social Security about the change in account numbers from at least one and a half years ago. While his spouse's payments had posted fine, apparently the male senior citizen's Social Security money had not been correctly posted at all.
The grandson told the Los Angeles Times: "The bank manager said they could see on the screen that my grandfather's checks were going to a different account. But they [B of A representatives] said there was nothing they could do about it."
With Bank of America not saying a lot on the matter, the man's family brought in a Sheriff's deputy -- for confirmation that the funds had been going to another account at B of A with the same number. The deputy referred the case to the local District Attorney for investigation -- which led to an arrest.
It seems a 38-year-old woman had been receiving the B of A account deposited payments from SSI accidentally, but hadn't really notified anyone that she'd been receiving someone else's Social Security money that was placed into her account in error. That admission resulted in a guilty plea and -- and an agreement by the allegedlly thieving Bank of America customer to pay back the entire $30,000 to the SSA plus an additional $4,000 to the Bank of America customer who was supposed to receive the money.
B of A lost zip on the deal. The senior citizen finally got his funds -- but not from Bank of America: The reissued money came from Social Security, meaning taxpayers are footing the bill for the bank's screw-up and customer's theft.
The 88-year-old man's family is not happy. And had the grandfather passed away, another element would've been added to the catastrophe: Robert Weber's grandson says Bank of America has never apologized to his family reporting to the L.A. Times, "It's just shameful that Bank of America let it get this far," and that "What's really despicable is that the bank knew all along that it was responsible."
What does B of A have to say about the Weber snafu and duplicate account numbers issued to two different customers? Not a lot -- though the bank does acknowledge the existence of two accounts with the same number, provided to two different customers. Says a Bank of America rep: "This is an unusual and unfortunate incident... It's not common that this happens. But it does happen occasionally."

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