King 5 News
AUBURN, Wash. – Buying his own home was a big accomplishment for construction worker, Ikenna Njoku, of Auburn. He’s only 28 years old.
“I was really excited. For the first time, I actually got to buy a lawn mower, mow my lawn and everything,” said Njoku.
Njoku qualified for the first time home buyer rebate on his tax return.
“It was really important, I had a vehicle I was looking on paying off,” said. Njoku. And it wasn’t just any vehicle. “It was a 2001 Infinity I-30, silver…just like my favorite car, “he said.
Njoku signed up to have the rebate deposited directly into his Chase Bank account. But when the IRS rebate arrived, there was a problem.
But when Njoku showed up at the Chase branch near his house intending to cash the check, he was in for a nasty surprise.
The check had Njoku’s name and address on it and was issued by JP Morgan Chase. But the Chase Customer Banker who handles large checks at the Auburn branch was immediately suspicious.
“I was embarrassed,” Njoku said. “She asked me what I did for a living. Asked me where I got the check from, looked me up and down—like ‘you just bought a house in Auburn, really?’ She didn’t believe that,” he said.
The Customer Banker said the check looked fake, so she took it, along with Njoku’s driver license and credit card, and called Bank Support.
After waiting for about 15 minutes, Njoku said he got impatient and told Chase he was leaving to do an important errand. By the time he got back, the bank was closed. Njoku said he called customer service and asked them what he should do. He says they told him to go back to the bank the next day to get his money.
But when Njoku arrived, it wasn’t the money that was waiting for him.
“They just threw me in jail; they called the police and said this guy has a fraudulent check,” Njoku said.
Auburn police arrested him for forgery – a felony crime.
“I was like – you’re making a mistake, you’re making a mistake, don’t take me to jail, I got work tomorrow. I can’t afford to miss work,” he said.