7 On Your Side: Stolen pension check delays marriage proposal for New Jersey teacher

BySteve J. Livingstone WABC logo
Wednesday, January 23, 2019
7 On Your Side: Stolen pension check delays marriage proposal for New Jersey teacher
Nina Pineda steps in to help a man recover his stolen retirement savings.

NUTLEY, New Jersey (WABC) -- A New Jersey teacher had plans to move to Greece and be with the woman of his dreams, but he had to put his future on hold after a thief stole his retirement money.

"It was lot of anger, disappointment, confusion, what the heck am I gonna do now?" teacher William Denk said.

His heart is in Greece, but he's been stuck almost 5,000 miles away from his beloved girlfriend Marianna because of a problem with his pension.

More than $14,000 was at stake -- money the public school teacher was going to roll over from his pension to an IRA at a different bank. He worked for four years at a public school in Nutley. The pension money is the only savings he has toward retirement.

The check was mailed out from the state this summer, but it was somehow cashed by someone else when a thief intercepted the check and managed to cash it.

"I was really mad, it was offensive, the person signed it with this real cursive, William D and I go by Will and number two I don't sign like that," Denk said.

When he called the state and reported the crime, Denk immediately filled a police report and then signed two affidavits claiming the cashed check was forged. But he says he hit major roadblocks getting the bank to investigate the crime.

"I tried to report it to Wells Fargo as soon as I found out I must've spent four hours on the phone every day for the first week trying to call them or different departments," he said.

Denk engaged in a five-month exercise in frustration, due in Athens to find a job and start a life with his girlfriend, he wrote letters to both New Jersey senators, Gov. Murphy and the CEO of Wells Fargo, Timothy Sloan.

Wells Fargo insisted it could not initiate a claim of forged endorsement for Denk, writing "it's the responsibility of the maker of the check's bank to assert a claim for refund."

Ironically, the maker of the pension check is the New Jersey State Treasury Department, and its bank is Well Fargo. But even after pointing that out, Denk said no one would give him any answers, he didn't even know if an investigation began.

Half a year later he gave up, booked a ticket to Greece to surprise his girlfriend on New Years Eve, and at the suggestion of a friend from church, threw one last pass to get his pension -- a hail Mary to 7 On Your Side.

We reached out to all the parties and got the good news from Greece.

"$14, 400.89 cents, Channel 7 got it down to the penny," Denk said. He got the good news in Greece from his mom, his check arrived and was safely deposited in his retirement account.

"I am incredibly grateful, thank you Nina, thank you 7 On Your Side for everything you've done!"

Wells Fargo said it had been working on the investigation for months, but was happy to "obtain a favorable resolution."

As for Denk, he got more great news. Shortly after he got to Greece, he proposed to his girlfriend and she said yes! Congratulations Will and Marianna, OPA!!!



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