Woman's tax refund sent to wrong bank account

Nina Pineda has 7 On Your Side.
Seven On Your Side
March 5, 2014 3:10:44 PM PST
We're just about six weeks from tax day, and that means a lot of us are gathering and submitting our documents.

But there's a very important tip on checking something that may never have occurred to you before.

Most people look for the money they're getting back and not much else.

A hardworking Brooklyn mom was counting on her refund check. She couldn't make the rent when it went missing so she put us on the case.

"I am frustrated and angry," said Abby Adeoye.

With good reason. Adeoye's 2012 tax refund, more than $7,000, has been AWOL since last tax season.

She says the problem started when the tax preparer she's used for a dozen years accidentally put someone else's bank account number on her return.

("So the account number and routing number were wrong', we said.) "Yeah, very wrong," she said. The account number was for Citibank, and hers is Bank of America.

Her $7,000 refund check was direct deposited into a stranger's account at Citibank.

Ever since, she says endless letters, calls, emails to the IRS and personal visits to Citibank to retrieve her refund have gone nowhere.

"I went to a couple of Citibanks and spoke with managers and they said they can't do anything because IRS they don't have the power," said Adeoye.

The IRS help line to start an investigation voicemail doesn't even accept messages.

The missing money forced the mom to move into a smaller apartment. Her son had to drop out of after school tutoring and karate, and the security guard stopped taking her nursing classes.

"I need it so bad, you don't know how much I need that money or what we've been through," said Adeoye.

So I paid a visit to her local Citibank branch, explaining what Abby was going through.

It took the branch manager less than one business day to do what the IRS and the bank couldn't accomplish in almost a year.

"The assistant manager said she felt my pain!," she said.

She finally got her 7 grand deposited in the right account this time.

"I'm so happy, you don't know how happy I am, you did it in 24 hours. It's a miracle!," Abby said.

One big takeaway here: if you do direct deposit, take a few seconds out and just check your bank routing and account number. You'll find both numbers at the bottom of your checks.

Because of privacy rules, the IRS couldn't comment on Abby's case. But normally, refund trace investigations are handled on a first in, first out basis. Citibank said it didn't find out about the problem until recently and got a check out to Abby as soon as we pointed out the problem.


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