Urich-Sass v. Bank of America

In this matter at a former firm, I represented plaintiff, an elderly woman from Beverly Hills who had been the victim of an international scam. Plaintiff had received a letter in the mail with a check stating that she had won a sweepstakes worth millions. She followed the instructions in the letter that advised her to deposit the check in her bank and then wire transfer the money to another account after which she would receive her multi-million dollar prize. She did not believe the check was probably valid and she told the teller at her bank not to perform the wire transfer until the check had cleared. English is not her first language and she did not actually fill out the wire transfer instructions. She signed a blank copy and trusted that the teller would follow her oral instructions. Instead, the check was deposited and the wire transfer was performed the next day. The check bounced, and over $60,000 of her money was wire transferred to an untraceable offshore account. Plaintiff sued her bank for failing to follow her instructions and performing a set off on her account and her son’s as well. The defendant bank believed they would win on their demurrer on all causes of action and were wrong. The trial judge only sustained one of their demurrers and allowed for four causes of action to proceed against defendant, after which defendant settled.

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