Wednesday, March 20, 2013

JP Morgan Chase Plays Fast and Loose with Escheated Funds?

For those not familiar with the term:
es·cheat  (s-cht)   n.
1. Reversion of land held under feudal tenure to the manor in the absence of legal heirs or claimants.
2. Law
a. Reversion of property to the state in the absence of legal heirs or claimants.
b. Property that has reverted to the state when no legal heirs or claimants exist.
intr. & tr.v. es·cheat·edes·cheat·inges·cheats Law
To revert or cause to revert by escheat.

[Middle English eschete, from Old French (from escheoir, to fall out) and from Anglo-Latin escheta, both from Vulgar Latin *excadre, to fall out : Latin ex-, ex- + Latin cadere, to fall; see kad- in Indo-European roots.

In other words, when you leave money at a bank for too long with no activity in your account, the bank must escheat the funds to the State.  Most State Treasurers in the United States have on-line search engines where you check to see if you have any escheated funds (sometimes called unclaimed funds, or lost money). I have successfully recouped thousands of dollars on multiple occasions on funds that insurance companies have placed with the state for who knows what reason.  Unless you check, you will never know if they are there.
I check my name and all my dependents on an annual basis. I also check my business names.
I once found funds in South Dakota because I used a bill paying service in Sioux Falls and the broker did not have my home address, so they sent the funds to that state.  I have successfully recouped funds in six states.
Most recently I have a very unusual situation that has developed:

XXX LLC (name has been changed to keep anonymity) is a domestic Limited Liability Corporation registered for doing business within the State of New York, having been organized on Feb. 2, 2005.  XXX LLC is currently recorded as being active and in good standing with the Secretary of State of New York.  XXX LLC has maintained a business bank account with JPMorgan Chase Bank.  XXX LLC does business in the Bronx, NY. The address registered with the Secretary of State for New York for filing of service is in Nassau County, NY.

The Office of the Comptroller of New York State has indicated that they are holding funds in excess of $100 that were escheated to them by JPMorgan Chase Bank during the calendar year 2012 on behalf of XXX LLC. They record the address associated with XXX LLC as being in Yonkers, NY (Westchester County).  The New York State Comptroller’s Office also indicates that the XXX LLC account was established through a branch of JPMorgan Chase located within New York State and that the type of property is “Cashier’s/Teller Checks”.

While I can provide documentation to the Comptroller of New York State as to  XXX LLC’s identity, including articles of organization, and, further, I can provide substantiation as to my relationship as managing member of that entity, I cannot provide any substantiation to the Comptroller as to the address that was provided by JPMorgan Chase that they show as affiliated with this entity as required by the Comptroller.  The Comptroller of New York has taken the position that until I “prove” to their satisfaction that the funds are XXX’s, they will not honor an application for claiming the funds.  The Comptroller’s Office is requiring me to provide some substantiation that the address in Yonkers is associated with the XXX LLC for which I am the managing member

I have done a search with the Secretary of State of the State of New York with regard to entity names and there is only one entity by the name of XXX LLC (either active or inactive) that is associated with that name or a name similar to it in New York State, and that entity is the entity for which I am the managing member. I have also checked NJ and CT. In NJ and CT, again, I find no entities with that name.

I have checked the internet for “XXX”. I find no indication that there is any other entity on the internet doing business with this name in the United States, or for that matter, anywhere in the world.

JPMorgan Chase has disavowed any knowledge about the funds that were escheated to the Comptroller of New York or their ability to respond to my inquiry about the funds.  They have directed me to deal with the Comptroller of New York State.

Further, it is my understanding that by banking regulation, JPMorgan Chase would have been required to obtain the articles of organization and other identifying information from XXX LLC before opening an account in the name of XXX LLC.  Since I am the representative of the only entity that could have opened such an account, the funds that were escheated to the Comptroller of New York State by JPMorgan Chase must have been those of XXX LLC (the one and the same XXX LLC for which I am the managing member) and no other.

On March 11, I filed a complaint with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which is the regulator of JPMorgan Chase, seeking assistance in this matter.  More specifically, I have asked OCC to require that JP Morgan Chase either:

1. correct the information provided to the Office of the Comptroller of New York State so that we may successfully claim the funds, or, alternatively,

2. Provide auditable substantiation to either me or the OCC that there is another legitimate entity with the same name as ours for which they escheated the funds to the Office of the Comptroller of New York State.

On March 19, I received a call from the executive office of JP Morgan Chase indicating that they have received a copy of the complaint that I filed and that they will respond in writing within 14 business days to both me and the OCC.

Through an unrelated sequence of events I have now learned that the Agent I retained for XXX LLC had maintained a lockbox with the same Post Office Box number in Yonkers New York that the Comptroller of New York State has associated with the unclaimed funds. So, it is clear that the funds are those of XXX LLC. I have now been attempting to get the proper documentation together so that I may claim the funds.

I have tried to get a letter from the Agent indicating that they maintained an Agency account at Hudson Valley Bank and directed my customers to remit their payments in the name of XXX LLC and in their name to that very lockbox in Yonkers, NY. The response I have gotten from the Hudson Valley Bank has been very interesting. They want to know the dates and number of checks that were not deposited in their lockbox in order for them to mail a letter of explanation to the New York State Comptroller's unclaimed funds department. Since I cannot provide that information they have been balking at writing any letter on my behalf. I have offered to indemnify them and hold them harmless for any claims they may sustain should they issue such a letter. Hudson Valley Bank's legal department is reviewing the matter.

I have also requested my Agent to issue a letter to the New York State Comptroller indicating that they are my Agent, that I have a contractual agreement with them, and that as part of the Agent agreement they maintained an Agency Account at Hudson Valley Bank and had remittances sent to the Post Office address in Yonkers New York. While I have not received that letter yet, they have indicated that they would send it.

I will post more on this story as it progresses. However, I must say that my recent interactions with JP Morgan Chase have been anything but friendly and enjoyable. I am glad that I have recently moved many of my accounts to other banks. For other information on JP Morgan Chase please see my other post.


I have now determined that my Agent also had instructions to other clients of mine to mail remittances to the same Post Office Box in Yonkers, NY and to make those remittances payable to them. The Comptroller of New York State also has funds associated with that address and my Agent listed in their database. I intend to pursue those funds also.


I have now searched the Comptroller of New York State for remittances to my previous Agent and have found that they are also holding funds there also. I am now pursuing those funds too.

I have now received adequate letters from Hudson Vally Bank and my Agent with regard to this matter. I have today filed a claim with the Office of Unclaimed Funds of the State Comptroller to retrieve those funds. I have sent them the letters from Hudson, and my Agent and the articles of organization of XXX LLC and a copy of my driver's license. I hope that they do not need any additional documentation. Shame on JPMorgan Chase for their behavior on this matter.
I will note when the funds are received or if there is a need for more documentation required.

1 comment:

  1. Did you know that 4000 people in Connecticut had their bank accounts, CDs etc escheated by chase without notification and wrongfully on march 20 2013. The ct state treasury is fuming with all the extra work. I have spoken to the treasury and they said the chase attorneys do not know what they are doing.