So I’ve been banking with U.S. Bank for abt a year and a half. I recently re-established a banking relationship with them; I did previously have accounts with California National Bank (smaller community bank) that was gobbled up by U.S. Bank during the financial crisis of 2008. Anyhow, around the beginning of January, I noticed some strange activity as it pertained to my U.S. Bank checking account. I often utilize Zelle to send money back and forth amongst friends, to pay back colleagues, and even to pay things as essential to everyday living like rent. I love it and to me, it’s definitely one of the more innovative and customer-centric tools that the banking sector has rolled out in quite some time. Anyhow, one evening I notice that my Zelle temporarily was unavailable. I happened to be completing a few BTC transactions using LocalBitcoin. I was and still am rather naive when it comes to understanding the relationship and perspective that big banks take with respect to cryptocurrency. The next day I receive a phone call from a US Bank phone number registered out of OHIO. The US BANK representative leaves an innoculous message stating he wants to clarify some of my recent activity and to call him back. Again, I remind you that I am completely naive and am forthcoming and honest with this individual from US Bank. I phone him back and he begins to ask me about recent activity on my account. He states that there has been an influx of zelle deposits into my account and because I had (one day prior) went into the branch and made a cash withdrawal of $2000 that it appeared suspicious. He said it looked as if “I were cashing out on my account.” Without being so much as prodded, I volunteered the fact that the transactions were Zelle payments and that they were from the sale of some BTC that I had owned." I guess I said the magic words that lead to relationship termination and now I find myself in a situation where my funds are being held hostage and I am forced to negotiate with them to try and gain access to them again. It’s now been closing in on 4 weeks that I haven’t had access to my own money. They continue to give me the runaround as well. I call in to customer service and they tell me that I’ll have to go to my home branch. I speak to my home branch and they say that internal back office is looking into it and they don’t know anything else. And earlier today was the straw that broke the camel’s back and made me feel compelled to post… I called into a local branch (because US Bank telephone customer service had told me that I would need to visit my local branch in order to resolve this issue; they were in fact apparently lying) and explained my situation. The gal was nice enough and she said give her a few minutes to research and she would phone me back with her findings. 10 minutes pass and she calls me back and tells me that the branch manager from my home branch will be giving me an update by days end. Less than 5 minutes later, I get a call from the Branch Manager. She sounds indignant and talks to me as if I’m a criminal. She says she has researched the account and that there are no plans to release the funds anytime soon. This is after I’ve been told by the initial contact from the back office that my funds may be held up to 10-15 business days. She says it may take up to 6 months and you may not ever see your funds whatsoever due to involvement in fraud. She stated that the transactions in question were 5 checks. I even asked what checks…and she proceeded to rattle off the transaction amounts that were in fact the zelle transfers for the btc that I had sold. I corrected her, but she didn’t really care. According to the notes on the account and whatever back office told her, I was a criminal. I have never felt such a feeling for doing nothing wrong. I was utterly in shock and looking back on it now, am not sure why I allowed her to speak to me in that manner. I guess part of me realized that I may in fact have to deal with her again, and better not to make enemies now. Anyways, I had to share. This is absolutely ridiculous. They are holding over 7K and for someone who works for an honest living and attempts to pay his bills on time and be a responsible productive member of society, I’m finding it difficult to stay afloat as they play their games. Please assist if someone can. Thanks.
Involuntary Account Closure due to Suspicious Activity (AKA BTC transactions)....When will I receive the funds from account closure?
As much as you may not want to - if I were in your situation, I would seek the council of an attorney on this one. At the end of the day, if you did nothing illegal as you state, the bank has your funds, and they are withholding them from you.
From this point on I would:
<> Keep everything that you do in writing (document all steps you have done on your end)
<> Document each time you have had correspondence with the branch and main office, requesting your funds, the dates and name of the individuals
<> Take all of this along with bank statements and ancillary documentation to the attorney to build your case
If I had to guess, there has probably been some sort of training or infos given to the staffs (accusing you of fraud) in relation to the localbitcoins platform; This in addition to the relative ignorance of most bank employees - tbh it doesn’t surprise me that they attempt to paint you and your funds as fraudulent.
Thanks for the feedback. I am going to try one more time to speak with them and this time, actually visit the branch. If that yields nothing then I will file a complaint with OCC and also seek legal representation. Thanks again. I will update this post.