If you can’t trust your bank, whom can you trust?

By Burl Barer

“He’s a liar and a fraud,” yelled Adam, “and he will go to jail and go to hell.”

The object of Adam’s ire is unknown even to me, and I’m the guy who wrote the sentence in the first place. I simply wanted to create a sentence in which someone is termed both a liar and a fraud.  Double trouble for sure.  

Lies and fraud are a tag team of deception, but they are not the same. What’s the difference? Well, in the world of true crime and legalese, lies and fraud are two different things with vastly different definitions, goals and objectives.   You can tell a lie, and not be arrested for it. But if that lie becomes fraud, you can go to jail. When does a lie become fraud? When have you crossed the line from a simply stupid and/or untrue statement into the realm of arrest and trial?

Let’s define fraud: Fraud is intentional deception to secure unfair or unlawful gain, or to deprive a victim of a legal right.

You will notice the phrase, intentional deception.   That means there was a lie told and it was told intentionally.  On purpose. Why? To cheat someone out of something

How you determine fraud is based on fraud’s three ingredients:  

All fraud contains an intentional lie.  

What is the intention of the lie?  If it is a joke or a silly exaggeration, it’s not fraud, it is just BS, entertainment or harmless chatter. But if the intention was to deceive, you may have a case of fraud.  

“When it comes to proving intent for fraud, courts often look at what the liar could gain if someone believes the lie. If the liar benefits from someone believing and acting on the lie, that tends to show intent.” – Deanne Katz, Esq.

The third thing, and very important is: Did the lie cause harm?

 If someone bought the intentional lie, acted on it, and suffered because of it – usually some sort of financial loss, but it can be actual physical injury or other form of loss.  Just being pissed off about it isn’t enough. Emotional distress won’t fly unless emotional distress had a price tag attached.

According to Deanne Katz, Esq, the most common frauds are found in contracts where one party intentionally lied about some aspect of the agreement, and the person believing the lie was cheated in some provable manner,

To keep a lie from becoming fraud, never intend to deceive for your benefit or someone’s loss. And keep your lies to the “little white lies” category, such as your answer to “Do these pants make my rear look too fat? The answer is not, “No, your enormous rear makes those pants look too small.”

Certain industries and entities create specific definitions of fraud, Zelle Quick Pay at your bank, for example: if you didn’t authorize the financial transaction, it is fraud.  If you authorized it, even if you got ripped off, it isn’t fraud. 

Federal regulations require banks to fully reimburse any customer whose money is fraudulently stolen from an account.

May 3, 2019 Burl Barer was taken by ambulance to Henry Mayo Hospital in Santa Clarita, California for emergency heart surgery.   On May 8, 2019, while heavily sedated in the hospital, Barer was the victim of bank fraud via Zelle.   $740 was sent to a Paul Cape. Mr.  Barer has never heard of Paul Cape and did not authorize these payments.

Despite providing Chase with proof of his hospitalization, the damage to his cellphone making use of that device by anyone impossible -verified by Verizon -- and Chase representatives acknowledging that Barer had no knowledge of the transactions, did not authorize the transactions, nor was his cellphone  used to make the transactions, Chase has refused to refund the money stolen from his account.

"In cases where a consumer’s bank account or debit card have been compromised, and unauthorized Zelle payments made, consumers have rights under the Electronic Funds Transfer Act." --  

As defined by Zelle, fraud is unwarranted transactions 

There is no question that the transactions to Paul Cape were NOT authorized nor initiated by Burl Barer.  That is the sole criteria -- were the transactions authorized by Mr. Barer?  NO, they were not authorized by Mr. Barer.   

The fact that Chase can't figure out how the unauthorized transactions took place does not negate the essential point that these transactions were unauthorized.  If law enforcement can’t figure out how a sophisticated crime was committed, that doesn’t mean no crime took place. Robbery, be it with a gun, a fountain pen or unauthorized access to a bank account, is still robbery.

Individual Chase employees have advocated for their institution to refund my money, but Chase says even though I didn’t authorize the transaction, nor knew anything about them, they were “properly processed.”   So is Velveeta, but that is equally irrelevant. 

Copyright 2019 by Burl Barer. All Rights Reserved.

Burl Barer is an Edgar-award winning and Anthony-award nominated true crime writer.

2 thoughts on “If you can’t trust your bank, whom can you trust?

  1. I had no idea that banks are required by federal law to reimburse any money that was fraudulently stolen from a customer’s account. I never knew about this and now I feel like I can trust the bank more. I know they’ll give me my money back so I have no worries about losing it at all.

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