A black man in Ohio who tried cashing a check from his employer earlier this month said he was met with skepticism regarding the document’s validity, and discriminately placed under arrest by officials.
According to Cleveland 19 News, Paul McCowns walked into Huntington Bank in Brooklyn, Ohio, on December 1 to cash a check he received from his employer, an electric company. He reportedly started the job around three weeks prior.
“I had got a new job. I worked there for about three weeks,” he told the news station.
Upon handing the check over, a bank teller asked McCowns for two forms of identification. He handed over his Social Security card and driver’s license. Per the establishment’s protocol, since he wasn’t a bank customer, he was also fingerprinted, the man said.
McCowns explained that once he gave the check to a teller, employees grew suspicious and were “looking at the computer screen and questioning the transaction.”
After calling his place of employment to verify the legitimacy of the document, but to no avail, workers gave the check back, McCowns said.
Unbeknownst to McCowns, a bank teller subsequently called 911, according to a call log obtained by the media outlet. According to the Washington Post, the bank had recently experienced an influx of reported fraudulent checks, which had the employees at the branch on “high alert.”
“He’s trying to cash a check and the check is fraudulent,” the unidentified female caller reportedly told the 911 operator. “It does not match our records.”
When McCowns got into his vehicle to leave the premises, he said he was in for another shock—the arrival of police.
“I get in my truck and the squad car pull in front of me and he says get out the car,” said McCowns.
The man was then reportedly arrested, placed in handcuffs and ordered to sit in the back of a squad car.
Authorities ultimately reached McCowns’ employer, the man said, and verified the check’s legitimacy.
“My employer said, ‘Yes he works for me. He just started and yes, my payroll company does pay him that much,’” McCowns stated, adding that the payment was roughly $1,000.
McCowns reportedly believes the motive behind the “embarrassing” mishap was “racial profiling.”
A statement from the bank to CBS MoneyWatch showed the company to be purportedly taking full responsibility in the matter.
“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.”
Further, authorities reportedly verified that no fraudulent activity took place in the case.
[Feature Photo: Paul McCowns/Youtube via CBS Screengrab]