NJ man loses $80K in life savings after routine bank transfer

MORRISTOWN, New Jersey -- Imagine a scenario where you lost your job to the pandemic and then in a matter of seconds, lost every nickel of your life savings.

A 24-year-old man from Morristown, New Jersey faced with this nightmare scenario reached out to WABC-TV, our sister station in New York, who got to the bottom of this mystery.

"I felt like I lost my life savings and it was very frustrating," Andrew Alexander said.

First, Alexander lost his job, then all his money -- $80,000 total.

The money, set aside for his future and education, became frozen during what Alexander believed was a routine bank transfer.

"There was a promotion going with Citibank that if you open an account with a certain amount of money, I get $700. So I was just trying to get that extra bonus," Alexander said.

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He transferred $50,000 from his online Chime account just before Christmas, then got 'scrooged.'

"Basically, the next day, both accounts were blocked. Chime sent an email saying my funds were not eligible for refund," Alexander said. "As to why both accounts were frozen, I still have no idea."

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Chime wanted Alexander to provide unemployment verification, but Citibank didn't ask for any documentation and wouldn't disclose why all his money was frozen.

"Every time I contacted them, they haven't given me a reason," Alexander said. "They said the block was out of their scope and I need to go to the branch. So when I went to the branch, they said there's nothing they can do for me. (They said) I need to call them over the phone."

With rent and bills due, Alexander was at a loss.

The 24-year-old's job disappeared when the establishment where he worked closed because of COVID-19.

He's been moonlighting as personal trainer and re-enrolled in college so he was desperate to unlock his tuition money.

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"I needed to buy gifts. I couldn't even buy food, my girlfriend took care of me," Alexander said.

He decided to call WABC in the hope of freeing his iced cash. WABC's "7 On Your Side" investigators asked Chime and Citibank to investigate.

The investigation team never found out what caused the freeze because neither bank is allowed to discuss customer accounts. But just 48 hours after WABC called, the big chill on Alexander's 'Benjamins' was thawed.

Citibank sent him a check for $50,000 and Chime unlocked $30,000.

"I was definitely relieved. I felt happy and thankful I really appreciate what you guys did for me," Alexander told WABC. "Thank you so much and keep helping people."
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