Bamboozled July 19, 2018: He deposited $550 in an ATM and it vanished. Here’s what he had to do to get it back

Early on May 30, Robert Chambers tried to make a payment on his car loan.

It was 6:50 a.m. and his credit union wasn’t yet open for business.

But that didn’t matter, Chambers decided. He could just make the payment using the credit union’s ATM.

Chambers said he had $250 in cash, but needed $300 more. So he withdrew $300 from his Wells Fargo account using his Wells Fargo debit card, records show.

“After that transaction was done, I proceeded to add my $250 to the $300 I just withdrew, and deposited the total sum of $550 into the ATM,” Chambers said. “Upon completion, I realized that I made a huge mistake by not switching and using my [credit union] card to make the deposit.”

He had accidentally deposited the $550 to Wells Fargo instead of to Financial Resources Credit Union.

The ATM spit out a receipt that showed the $550 was accepted, but, Chambers said, there was also a message: “Transaction can’t be completed,” and the ATM advised him to go inside the branch, which was not open.

At about 9 a.m., when Financial Resources opened for the day, Chambers said, he called to report what happened.

“I was told to give it to the end of the business day,” Chambers said.

That wasn’t long enough.

For the next 29 days, despite multiple contacts with Financial Resources and Wells Fargo, Chambers still didn’t have his money back.

He started with Financial Resources because the incident happened at the credit union’s ATM. It said it would investigate.

Chambers received a copy of the ATM transaction history for his deposit, and it clearly showed a deposit made by Chambers – 15 $20s, one $50 and two $100 bills.

The same report, next to the words “Denial Reason,” it said, “Cash return failure.”

On June 4, Chambers received a denial letter from Financial Resources. The letter made no sense, he said.

“We have completed our research regarding your dispute and have determined that no error occurred.” the letter said. “Your claim has been denied.”

But how could that be? Chambers had the report showing what bills were deposited during the transaction.

Financial Resources suggested Chambers try Wells Fargo because the deposit was made to his Wells account using a Wells card, he said.

He had no luck there, either.

“We cannot find a record of this transaction,” Wells Fargo said in a letter dated June 18.

Chambers called it a “runaround” and asked Bamboozled for help.

RECORDS SAVE THE DAY

We reviewed all the records of the transaction and a police report filed by Chambers, then reached out to Wells Fargo and Financial Resources. It was now 40 days after the deposit was made.

Surely someone could figure out where the money went – especially with the detailed transaction record as proof. Surely someone could figure out how to get the money back to Chambers, who was, by the way, charged a $35 late fee on his car payment.

We asked both institutions to take a closer look, and it didn’t take long to get answers.

After reviewing, Wells Fargo sent a “good faith request” to Financial Resources, asking it to return the money from the ATM so Wells could return it to Chambers.

The credit union would “honor the request to return the $550,” Stephen Juro, Financial Resources’ marketing manager, told Bamboozled.

“We will also refund the late fee since the transaction was not processed correctly,” Juro said.

Wells Fargo confirmed it was waiting to receive the credit union’s check, which Wells said was mailed on July 9.

Once the check arrives, Chambers would receive a credit to his account within 10 days, Wells Fargo spokesman Kevin Friedlander said.

We estimated how long the check delivery would take and added those 10 days for Wells to credit the account. We figured it could take until July 24 – 55 days since the mishap – before Chambers would be made whole.

We were wrong. The institutions, and even the postal service, moved faster than we expected.

In the early morning hours of July 12, Chambers saw the money was back in his account.

It took a mere 43 days to get the money back.

And the next day, he received a voicemail from Financial Resources confirming Chambers would receive the late fee back, he said.

Chambers said he’s glad the late fee will be returned to him, but he said the whole incident can’t be taken back.

“I look at it this way: You spanked your child for something you thought the child did, but later on you find out that the child was innocent. How do you take back the spanking?,” Chambers said. “The damage is already done and it’s left me with a bitter taste in my mouth.”

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