POMPTON PLAINS, New Jersey (WABC) -- After a fire displaced a New Jersey family, a Marine veteran called for help when his big insurance check didn't clear.
Check fraud scams have doubled in just the last two years. Banks are fighting the flood of fraud by being more cautious than ever before cashing checks -- and that means perfectly good checks won't clear for months.
That is what happened last fall when the veteran was out five figures - which is money his family desperately needed.
Manny and Natacha Martinez saved for years to move their blended family from the Bronx to the suburbs.
Four months later their dream home in Pompton Plains, New Jersey, was destroyed by a fire. What flames didn't consume was ruined by water.
They managed to salvage their wedding photos and Manny's Marine hat and sword from his time on active duty.
Manny is now a minister and feels their faith is being tested after asbestos was discovered in the basement and the pipes burst, which caused a flood.
The money for their insurance claim, two checks totaling $47,044, mysteriously vanished.
Natacha took the checks to her local Citibank branch but it was closed, so she deposited them in the ATM -- but her account was then frozen.
That was back in November, both checks cleared their insurance adjuster's account, but despite calling and emailing Citibank, seven months later, the veteran's $47,000 is still missing.
"We are losing everything, we don't know what we are going to do, because we are not financially wealthy people," Manny said.
That's when the family reached out to 7 On Your Side for help.
7 On Your Side contacted Citibank who apologized to Manny and Natacha, telling them it was trying to verify if the check was valid, adding:
"We work around the clock to keep our accounts safe and secure while each situation is unique, we are pleased to have resolved this matter with our customers."
Their $47,000 check was released and they can move out of the hotel and finally go home.
"We're so grateful for 7 On Your Side," Manny said.
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