A Black Cleveland man believes he was racially profiled when a bank teller called 911 on him from trying to cash a check from his new job.
Paul McCowns went to a Huntington branch inside Brooklyn on Dec. 1 to deposit the check, which was just over $1,000.
“I had got a new job. I worked there for about three weeks,” he told Cleveland 19 News.
In order to cash the check, McCowns had to present two forms of ID and a fingerprint because he was a non-Huntington customer. Once McCowns handed over the check, bank employees stopped the transaction and began analyzing the computer screen.
“They tried to call my employer numerous times. He never picked up the phone,” he added. Eventually the bank said they would be unable to cash the check, so McCowns left.
“I get in my truck and the squad car pull in front of me and he says get out the car,” McCowns said.
Little did he know, the bank teller made a call to 911 and accused McCowns of fraud.
“He’s trying to cash a check and the check is fraudulent. It does not match our records,” said the teller to a 9-1-1 operator.
McCowns was handcuffed and detained by police, who were eventually able to get in touch with his employer.
“My employer said, ‘Yes he works for me. He just started and yes, my payroll company does pay him that much,’” McCowns explained.
Police in Brooklyn, Ohio confirmed to Cleveland 19 News that there was no fraud and McCowns was able to cash the check at a different Huntington location with no problems. When a rep at the bank was asked for a statement, a spokesperson said they experienced 11 cases of fraud at this branch in just the last few months and they were just taking extra precaution.
In a full statement, Huntington stated:
“We sincerely apologize to Mr. McCowns for this extremely unfortunate event. We accept responsibility for contacting the police as well as our own interactions with Mr. McCowns. Anyone who walks into a Huntington branch should feel welcomed. Regrettably, that did not occur in this instance and we are very sorry. We hold ourselves accountable to the highest ethical standards in how we operate, hire and train colleagues, and interact with the communities we have the privilege of serving.”
A Huntington rep said they attempted to reach out to McCowns numerous times to apologize, but he has not returned their calls.
(Photo: Cleveland 19 News)