Phony Checks

I just read this doozy of a story. It was from way back in 1995. A dude got a piece of junk mail with a $95,000 check in it. The check had the words non-negotiable written in the corner. So the guy goes to his ATM and deposits the check. 10 days later, the money is still in his account. A teller from the bank says the money is his since it has been over 10 business days and the check had not been returned. This is a synopsis of the Midnight Deadline.

The dude did some researching on check validity. The authority on this subject if the banking book by Brady. It states what a check needs in order to be valid. Just because a check has the words non-negotiable on it does not make it invalid. So the guys thinks about trying to get the $95k out of his account in cash. But that is a big process because banks usually don't dole out so much cash. Instead he gets a cashiers check.

Over a month later, a security officer from the bank accuses the guy of fraud. However all checks are initially assumed to be valid. The bank must server the depositor a notice of dishonor in a timely fashion. This was obviously not the case with this guy (it had been over a month). The guy decides he wants to get the Wall Street Journal to do an article on him. It takes a long time for that article to make it to print.

The guy decides to put the story on his own web site. His bank account gets frozen. His ATM card gets confiscated. He tries unsuccessfully to reach the president of the bank. In the end, he winds up negotiating with senior counsel from the bank. He can't get any photographers in the bank on the day when he hands the cashiers check back to them. It is too bad he did not try to keep the money in the end. He had a good legal ground to stand on. If he did not want the money himself, he could have given it to charity.