Slice of Life #2- Counterfeit Claim


After school I checked my mail and was happy to see the rent check had arrived.  Because of issues with the bank that just purchased the loan on my rental property (LoanCare LLC is awful), I needed to cash the check at the bank it was drawn on so that I could deposit the cash in the rental account.  Then I would pay the mortgage online.

I packed up the dogs and my plan was to take 15 minutes to cash the check at one bank, drive 5 minutes down the road, and then deposit the cash in the other bank account.  Simple, right?  Then I would head to the park to walk the dogs.

The first part worked out fine, other than the fact that Santander was slow.  I cashed the check and took the large bills they offered me.  With the money in a bank envelope I got back in the car and headed to PNC.  I figured I’d use the ATM to make the deposit as I had the dogs in the car and didn’t want to leave them alone again.

Unfortunately, the ATM spit out my money.  After getting frustrated I realized, “Wait, I bet there’s a limit on how much I can deposit into the ATM!”  Not something I deal with very often, so I let it.  No big deal- I could run in and still make it to the park in time.

Once inside I filled out the deposit slip and handed it over to the teller.  I watched him count the money.  The bills flew from one hand to another, until he stopped suddenly.  He pulled one $100 bill out and waved over another teller.  My heart started racing- this did not look good

“Ma’am, we can’t deposit this bill.  It’s counterfeit.”

Cue me passing out.  Figuratively, of course. In reality I was mortified and freaking out.

“What?  What do you mean?  I literally just picked up this cash at the bank branch up the street!  How is that possible? Are you sure!?” I spit out.

He held the bill up to the light and then turned around to run it through a machine.  “Yes, counterfeit,” he confirmed.

Cue me melting into the floor.  Are you serious?

“So what do I do now?” I asked.  I was waving the Santander envelope around. “I have had this cash for less than 10 minutes.  And I need that money today!”

He looked at me, looked at the bill, then whispered with another teller.  He then surreptitiously slid the bill across the counter. “You got this from a bank today?  Ok, we don’t usually do this but I advise you to bring it back there immediately.”

I nodded. “Yes, I will do that right now.  In fact, I’ll call them right now to let them know”.

The teller finished my transaction while I looked up the number.  It was 4:45pm and the bank would close at 5pm.

As I got to the car I turned on my bluetooth and dialed the number.  Actually, I pressed ‘call’ on the cell phone screen.  Times really have changed!  Anyway, a woman picked up the call and I began to tell her my story.

“Hi.  My name is Sarah and I just left your bank a few minutes ago.  I don’t have an account with you but I cashed a $x check.  I just tried to deposit the cash at my bank branch and one bill, it seems, is counterfeit.  I’m on my way back now to take care of this.”

There was an awkward pause. Then, “So you left our branch already?”

“Yes, about 15 minutes ago. I drove half a mile down the road to PNC. When they….”

She cut me off. “Oh, well we can’t do anything once you leave the bank.  You need to check the bills before you leave because once you leave the property we have no way to know if you created the counterfeit bill”.

Yes, she accused me of counterfeiting money.  Needless to say, I flipped out.

“Hooooold on.  You are telling me that as a financial institution you put the onus on me, the customer, to determine if the bills you give me are counterfeit?!  That’s your job!  And one of your tellers just passed me a counterfeit bill.  Someone messed up and it was not me!  As a result, I will not be the one who loses here.  I will be there in 5 minutes to take care of this.”

“Ma’am, you are welcome to come in but there is nothing I can do.  In fact, I will have to call the Secret Service when you try to use a counterfeit bill here.”

And cue me flipping out again.

By this point I was pulling into the parking lot.  I slammed on the brakes, grabbed my bag and the $100 bill, and marched into the bank.  I didn’t know who I was meeting with so I may have loudly proclaimed, “I am here to speak to someone about the counterfeit $100 bill a teller here gave me.”

A woman suddenly appeared and ushered me into a side room.  I handed over the bill and started explaining, again, that I would not be the one to lose money here.

The manager picked up the bill and ran her fingers over it. While I was still talking (loudly, I admit), she looked up and announced, “This isn’t counterfeit.  PNC was wrong.”

Now look.  I worked in retail, I had training in counterfeit bill detection, and I watched the teller at PNC put the bill through their machine.  It came back as counterfeit.  But you know what? I don’t care why the manager at this bank was denying it.  I stood up and said, “In that case, I’d like a new bill so that I can avoid repeating this mortifying experience.”

The manager paused and then got up and walked out.  I heard whispering a few feet away before she came back, new bill in hand.  As she placed the envelope in my hand she pointed out that technically she should have called the Secret Service and allowed them to deal with she was willing to do the switch.  I’ve never grabbed currency that quickly.

I made it home with the full rent payment and a story that seems even more unbelievable now that I am typing it out. It was a bit of a day, to say the least.