Tuesday, November 09, 2021

Chase Theft Update

Chase just made a "temporary credit deposit" to my accounts restoring the money that was stolen.  Temporary, as they're still investigating and reserve the right to pull it all back out pending their determination and decision on the matter, which is not happy-making and leading to more grey hairs.

Police are also investigating, and I made the appropriate report to the Bar Association re the matter.

New checks for the new account numbers should be arriving today.

Currently watching all accounts like a hawk on a more than daily basis.

I have created a savings account to sequester some operating account funds and Chase allows up to six transfers from savings back to Operating without a charge, so it will take some care and planning.  I've been assured there cannot be an ACH pull from the savings account but, well, it's Chase, so I may get a different answer from another rep.  

Unfortunately, I can't do that to the IOLTA account as there is no such thing as an IOLTA savings account, nor does Chase offer the ability to block ACH withdrawals from an IOTA account even though they have the technical ability to do so but will not offer that service to this account. This is unfortunate as I'd prefer to safeguard my client's money even more strictly than my own.  I relayed that to the Bar and the Bar Rep is going to be contacting Chase to ask why IOLTA accounts don't get that kind of protection, as apparently the number one method of theft from IOLTA accounts is now via ACH. On top of that, the number one serious attorney violation with IOLTA accounts is now some attorneys with gambling problems using ACH at Casinos to drain IOLTA accounts to feed their habit - that should not be allowed to happen.

So, after over 20 hours of calls, meetings, completing and submitting forms and doing more forms, and emails with Chase, the Police, the Bar, etc it seems to be stabilizing. 

Assuming Chase doesn't make a sudden reversal and yank the funds and induce a heart attack, I should be good to go from here on out.  Also I'm checking into other banks/credit unions to see if they are rated for IOLTA accounts and can offer higher security and less visibility compared to Chase.

Most importantly, I'd like to extend my gratitude to those of my friends/readers who on reading of the attack immediately contacted me to offer loans to tide us over while this was being sorted out. 

I didn't need them as our personal funds in a different institution were still intact, and we had reserve emergency funds so I could skip a paycheck, and still cover what was coming out while getting this fixed.   But, you folks - and you know who you are - immediately jumped in to offer help, and I'm extremely grateful to you for doing so. Thank you.


juvat said...

Just out of curiosity (and I might have missed it in a prior post), but what is a IOLTA account?

Aaron said...

juvat: IOLTA = Interest On Lawyer Trust Account.

In short, if a client deposits a retainer (which is a good thing to make sure that I will get paid for the work I do), that retainer has not been earned yet, so it is not yet my money and cannot be placed in my operating account.

Instead, it is placed into the trust account and the interest earned in that account is not paid to me, since it is not my money, but it goes to the State Bar for funding legal aid and other community programs as the client's individual interest they would make is in pennies, but add up all the clients in there and it's a few bucks a month.

juvat said...

Thanks, just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything (I'm not). Your issue has got me thinking about the way Mrs J handles some things in her Travel Agent job. Secure, encrypted e-mail is now installed. Trying to get my investment broker to do similar things. He asked us to send a PDF of a voided check with all that info you described in your initial report on it. I declined and explained why. He's looking into getting his email secured. So, at least on my end, some good came out of your troubles.

Old NFO said...

At least 'some' good news.