Ohio Bank Calls Cops On Black Man Because They Thought His $1000 Paycheck Was Too High
A black Ohio man who’d just started a new job and was trying to cash his check was handcuffed and forced into a police car because bank tellers were suspicious that he earned too much and assumed he was attempting to cash a fraudulent paycheck.
Paul McCowns, 30, says he tried to cash his first paycheck he’d just received from his new gig with an electric company on December 1 at Huntington Bank in the Cleveland suburb of Brooklyn.
As reported by WOIO-TV, the check was for $1,082 for 64 hours he’d worked at the job he started three weeks earlier. Bank employees became suspicious about how he earned so much, however.
Even though McCowns showed two forms of I.D. and a fingerprint, as required for non-Huntington customers, bank employees refused to cash the check without speaking to his employer to verify the check was legit.
“They tried to call my employer numerous times, but he never picked up the phone.” McCowns said. “It was highly embarrassing.”
Accepting that the tellers weren’t going to help him, McCowns decided to leave, not expecting to find a surprise waiting for him outside the bank office. It turned out a bank employee managed to call 911, so when the young man left the bank, a police car rolled up on him before he could drive away.
“I get in my truck and the squad car pull in front of me and he says, ‘get out the car,’” McCowns said.
“He’s trying to cash a check and the check is fraudulent. It does not match our records,” a teller told a 911 dispatcher, according to call records.
The teller admits McCowns did not know police had been called, and officers handcuffed him and placed him in the back of a police cruiser while cops reached out to his new employer and confirmed the check was legitimate.
“My employer said, ‘Yes, he works for me, he just started and, yes, my payroll company does pay him that much,’” McCowns said.
McCowns was able to cash the check without trouble the following day at another Huntington location.
The bank reportedly told Cleveland News 19 the branch where McCowns tried to cash his check had seen 11 cases of fraud in recent months, and tellers were “hyper-vigilant” as a result. A spokesman sent a statement to the Daily News apologizing to McCowns.
“We sincerely apologize to Mr. McCowns for this extremely unfortunate event,” the bank said in a statement. “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.”
McCowns said he wanted an apology from the bank for what he sees as a case of racial profiling, and he wanted the tellers to face consequences, but a bank representative said he had not returned numerous calls.
McCowns felt the bank employee who phoned police was “judging” him personally.
“It hurts,” he said.