A Huntington Station couple is suing Chase Bank, saying the bank lost $25,000 they had placed into a savings account more than a decade ago.
Salvatore and Anna Russo said they deposited $30,000 in a high-yield account in 2002 and expected the money to remain there — save for one $5,000 withdrawal — until they were ready to use it.
The Russos say that when they went to take out the remaining funds in September 2014, employees at the bank’s Main Street branch in Huntington told them there was no record of the funds.
“They said you don’t have an account here,” said Salvatore Russo, 87, who added he has several other accounts with the bank with no issues. “We just left it there, we didn’t take it out and didn’t need it, then we went to withdraw.”
Chase policy is to close accounts after five years of inactivity and customers are given several notices about the closure, the bank said.
“We don’t retain records for more than seven years following an account’s closure and the customers have not been able to provide any documentation that proves their claims,” J.P. Morgan Chase spokesman Erich Timmerman said. “We are continuing to look into this to try and find more information.”
Russo and his attorney, Kenneth Mollins of Hauppauge, said the suit was filed on June 21 in State Supreme Court in Suffolk County after attempts to resolve the issue with the company were unsuccessful.
Chase said the couple did have the account at the bank, but when and if the account was closed isn’t in the bank’s records and the location of the money is unclear.
Salvatore Russo said he and his wife didn’t receive any paper statements regarding the account and kept notes on the deposit history in a passbook ledger, but a bank spokesman said the handwritten records weren’t enough.
Money that isn’t claimed when a bank closes an account is given to the state comptroller’s office, where the unclaimed funds office tracks it in the event the owner later wishes to claim it. However, Chase said it does not have a record of the Russo’s money being given to the state, and a search of the state’s online database did not find the Russos. The comptroller’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Russo said the couple made one $5,000 withdrawal about a month after opening the account, but otherwise left it alone until 2014. He said he didn’t receive any notice of closure.
Mollins said his clients shouldn’t have to worry about their money disappearing, especially given the type of account.
“They let the money sit because they knew it was a high-yield account,” he said. “They don’t check because they don’t believe they have to.”
The lawsuit accuses Chase of violating its agreement with the Russos and of negligence in handling their money. Mollins said they are seeking a monetary judgment that will compel Chase to pay the couple $25,000.
Mollins said lost money cases are common, and he is seeking other bank customers with similar stories. Since he was hired by the Russos, he said, he’s heard from about 20 people also reporting lost funds at a number of banks around the country and wants to file more lawsuits depending on the outcome of the Russos’ case.
Russo said he’s also been approached by people who have seen news stories and had similar banking experiences. But for him, the suit is about getting his money back, and he’s eager for the case to move forward.
“If you don’t know where it is, what I am I supposed to do?” he said. “We just have to wait to see what happens with the lawsuit.”