Rica Cuff was determined to shine the light on a case of fraud that drained her elderly uncle’s bank account, but after the banks involved told her “no” for more than two years, the Streamwood woman said she almost gave up – until she saw a recent and very similar situation reported on NBC 5 Responds.
Two years ago, Cuff brought her ailing uncle to Chicago from Miami so she could take care of him. The 92 year-old suffered from kidney failure and needed to be taken for dialysis and rehab on a regular basis.
"He was weak mentally and physically," Cuff recalled. "He was not able to do much for himself."
But while Cuff was busy taking care of her uncle in Chicago, thieves were busy getting into his bank account in Miami, transferring $15,000 from his Chase Bank account to open a SunTrust Bank account in his name. The money was then promptly withdrawn, as Cuff’s uncle lay in his hospital bed.
Cuff, who had power of attorney for him, asked Chase to look into the missing money, but hit a frustrating wall.
"I was told my uncle would need to come in to sign some paperwork so they could proceed with the investigation," Cuff told NBC 5 Responds.
An impossible request of a man in failing health and full-time care, according to Cuff, who says Chase would not reconsider its request.
“It was very frustrating because I knew someone had stolen money from my uncle,” Cuff said. “ And my uncle couldn’t do anything about it because he is not in a physical or mental condition to be able to do something about it.”
The other bank involved – Sun Trust – did see something wrong.
"Sun Trust itself closed down the account because they suspected something fishy," Cuff said.
But that’s where the progress ended, with both banks denying responsibility. An expensive dead-end, she thought, until Cuff turned on NBC 5 and heard a similar story about a college student struggling with theft and a refusal by Chase to help. That’s when Cuff decided to reach out to NBC 5 Responds
“I thought to myself that’s exactly the same thing Chase Bank told me,” Cuff said. “And so immediately I got up from my seat, and I went to the computer and I wrote to NBC Responds.”
We asked Chase and Sun Trust to re-examine this transfer of $15,000 belonging to a man who was in failing health and not online. With no explanation, Chase changed course and cut a check for Cuff’s uncle for $15,000, plus interest.
Little information was released on what caused Cuff’s situation. Sun Trust said it’s not at liberty to discuss the specific details of Cuff’s case, but said there is a process where banks work together on fraudulent transactions. Chase would only say it was happy to return the missing money – welcome news to Cuff.
"I'm excited justice has prevailed," Cuff said.