IN A NUTSHELL:
On July 22, 2015 our company VIDYPS 79 d.o.o. initiated a payment of $17,950 based on the Agreement with "Universal Music Group Distribution" ("UMGD") to a "JPMorgan Chase Bank" bank account holder. Our company approved the transfer having confirmed "Universal Music Group Distribution" as a beneficiary customer. On the other hand, "Universal Music Group Distribution" never confirmed that they received this payment. We therefore looked into the records and found that according to the official bank statement following up on this transaction, the formal beneficiary customer was "Universal Music Group Distribution". But also, some time later we found out that the bank account owner, previosly introduced as a "UMGD treasurer", had nothing to do with "UMGD" from a legal point of view. The Agreement with "Universal Music Group Distribution" itself appeared to be fraudulant as well. By law the Bank is obligated to have all the information about its account holders and their business (if any). "JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A." was under an obligation to confirm whether the bank account holder was legally bound to the beneficiary customer or not prior to approving the wire transfer. If not, the transaction must have been declined by the bank. For some reasons still left unrevealed, it didn't happen. Yet we do know that it couldn't have been a coincidence. It looked like a scam prepared in advance. Vladimir Milicev, CEO of VIDYPS 79, contacted the State of New York, Department of Financial Services and the Bank demanding an explanation.
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* Click HERE to review the scanned documents related to the complaint against JPMorgan Chase Bank
RESPONSE NO.1 FROM "JPMORGAN CHASE BANK N.A." IN REGARD TO OUR COMPLAINT:On December 26, 2017 "...We regret to hear you sent a payment to a person representing a business opportunity that may have been a scam. We are unable to refund the wife transfer proceeds because you initiated and authorized the wire transfer to the accountholder. We have no duty to determine the use or intentions of the funds. We recommend you contact your bank or a law enforcement agency for assistance recovering your funds..."
* In July 2015 the payment of $17,950 was initiated to Universal Music Group Distribution's account in JPMorgan Chase Bank and it turned out that the bank account was in no connection with Universal Music Group Distribution at all
OUR RESPONSE TO THE BANK IN REGARD TO THEIR RESPONSE NO.1:* The full response to the Department of Financial Services as originally submitted is available HERE "...It is rather unclear what you mean by "determining the use of the funds", but I will remind you that entering the purpose of using the funds when initiating a wire transfer is obligatory. If something is obligatory, it is obligatory by all means and for everyone implying that leaving it out, either intentionally or forgetfully, is illegal..." "...According to the document provided by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council regarding money laundering red flags, "international transfers, to or from the accounts of domestic customers, in amounts or with a frequency that is inconsistent with the nature of the customer's known legitimate business activities could indicate money laundering"..." "...Could the Bank please explain if it is usual for Ms. Dorothea Oliver King to receive $18,000 for her "bussines", so the Bank did not have to report any inconsistency?... or provide a document stating that the Chase Bank had reported this transaction to the authorities, or at least, asked for additional documentation from either the Sender or the Receiver?..."
RESPONSE NO.2 FROM "JPMORGAN CHASE BANK N.A." IN REGARD TO OUR RESPONSE:On February 28, 2018 "...We are sorry you were the victim of a wire scam. Voluntarily sending a wire transfer is not considered a fraudulent transaction, please contact your bank where the wire trasfer was initiated to file a claim or request a wire recall.We are unable to refund the wire transfer proceeds because you initiated and authorized the wire transfer to the accountholder. We have no duty to determine the use or intentions of the funds. A reportable transaction relates to the underlying transaction that results in the transfer of cash. It is required by any business receiving one or more related cash payments totaling more than $10,000.A wire transfer is not considered cash for purposes of Bank Secrecy Act Compliance. Protecting our customers' personal or account information is a top priority for us. We are unable to release account information to anyone that is not a signer or owner of the account..."
FINAL RESPONSE FROM THE NEW YORK STATE, DEPARTMENT OF FINANCIAL SERVICES:On April 6, 2018 "...You may wish to contact the bank that your company used in Serbia to originate this wire transfer and see if they are able to recall the wired funds. Accordingly, your complaint falls outside the purview of the Department of Financial Services. You may wish to file a police report regarding this matter. You may also want to consider consulting with an attorney for assistance with your complaint..."
CONCLUSION:JPMorgan Chase Bank told us to forget about being issued a refund. We did expect such a reply from the bank, but we naively thought that the Department of Financial Services would launch a more thorough investigation and give its professional opinion based upon all available facts and documents we had provided. Unfortunately, the Department of Financial Services was of no help at all ("it falls outside the purview", "file a police report", "consider consulting with an attorney" etc). It was a waste of time, we lost months for nothing. Trying to have the issue resolved in a friendly fashion did not give any good results. Should we consider launching a public campaign and filing a lawsuit against the Bank our ultimate solution?
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