PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Miranda Drake and her husband have 2 toddlers, live in Portland and had a joint checking account at Chase Bank that they used solely to pay their mortgage and monthly bills.
But on September 6, they noticed “that there were some wire transfer charges that we had not authorized,” she told KOIN 6 News.
They were shocked to see a wire transfer to “Munyanya Transportation.”
“It was very confusing,” Drake said. “This was over $12,000 from our account. It completely drained our account and was to some account in New Hampshire.”
The Drakes immediately notified Chase Bank of the fraudulent wire transfer. But 24 hours later, Chase Bank officials told them the case was closed.
“We were pretty surprised to find that they had determined no fraud had occurred,” she said. So they started the appeals process. Chase Bank said they would have to deal with the matter though mail.
After 2 months had gone by without them seeing their money, the Drakes finally received a letter from Chase Bank: “We are denying your claim because we determined that the item being disputed were authorized or you received benefit from the item. We will not reimburse your account.”
Drakes contacted KOIN
At this point KOIN 6 News got involved emailing Chase Bank officials, asking about this latest case, after looking into two other previous reports received of fraudulent wire transfers slipping the cracks for their customers within 3 months.
KOIN previously reported on helping a man in Salem get this $25,000 back after the bank allowed a fraudulent wire transfer. Shortly after that report, KOIN helped a retired couple in Nevada get $65,000 back after a similar fraudulent wire transfer went throughout without them authorizing it.
In regard to the Drake’s case, Bank officials responded in an email: “We reviewed the customer’s situation again and confirmed our decision.”
But KOIN 6 News pressed Chase Bank further, asking bank officials to provide proof the Drakes authorized this wire transfer. Red flags about the company in question were also provided to bank officials.
Among those red flags: the business address for Munyanya Transportation on the New Hampshire Secretary of State‘s website lead to a vacant suite within a strip mall. The business phone number does not go to Gerry Munyanya but does go to someone’s cell phone who is not listed as a business partner.
KOIN 6 News also pointed out how strange the transfer was, considering the business in New Hampshire lists its principal purpose as “the exportation of passenger vehicles and transportation services to private mining businesses in the Republic of the Congo.”
“We have no connections to anyone in that area,” Drake said.
What, KOIN 6 News asked, led Chase Bank officials to believe this $12,000 wire transfer was honest and legal?
Within one business day of sending those questions, Chase Bank officials notified the Drakes they would be fully reimbursed.
“$12,000 is a lot for a middle class family,” Miranda Drake said. “These other folks that you’ve talked about, their retirement savings drained, you know, that is a big deal to everyday folks.”
While the Drakes are relieved they got their money back they are disappointed it required media attention.
“This seems to be a very sophisticated fraud operation,” Drake said. “I really hope Chase addresses it fully.”
Records obtained from the Attorney General’s office in Oregon show 22 complaints from customers against Chase Bank so far this year, regarding issues of fraud, stolen identities, unlawful conduct and failure to deliver refunds.
Drake said she will be filing a report with the attorney general, too, as this experience shook their sense of security.
“We just don’t have any confidence in their service and ability to address any internal fraud at this time,” she said. “So we’ll be moving to a local bank or credit union.”
Her only hope is that sharing her story helps prevent this from happening to others.
Chase Bank officials declined an interview and also refused to answer any of those specific questions. Their final response to KOIN 6 News was: “The customer has been reimbursed.”
As for Munyanya Transportation, it took weeks to get ahold of them. In an email to KOIN 6 News, Gerry Munyanya said:
I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this may cause. If there is an existing tangible evidence to provide to support this claim then it will be only right to kindly make a restitution to the family.
Munyanya Transortation LLC did not “Steal” any money nor made any fraudulent wire transfer.
After replying with evidence that his name and company were listed receiving this large wire transfer, he stopped replying to our requests for comment.
The New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office said their records show Munyanya Transportation is in good standing but they have had to previously dissolve the company due to bounced checks. They also said Gerry Munyanya is the sole member of another transportation export company that is not in good standing.