Paul McCowns

Paul McCowns tried to cash a check for $1,082 at a Huntington Bank from his new job at an electric company in Brooklyn, Ohio. It did not go well.

McCowns provided two forms of ID and a fingerprint, which is the normal per bank policy for non-Huntington customers who wish to cash checks. The teller was suspicious and not sure that such a large check was real and asked for his boss’s phone number and McCowns provided it.

“They tried to call my employer numerous times. He never picked up the phone,” he told Cleveland 19 News.

The bank wouldn’t let him cash his check, so McCowns left. Meanwhile, the employees at the bank had called 9-1-1 on him.

“I get in my truck and the squad car pull in front of me and he says get out the car,” McCowns told Cleveland 19.

McCowns was handcuffed and put in the back of a Brooklyn Police cruiser. Minutes after being arrested, police were able to get in contact with McCowns employer who confirmed the check was real and that McCowns is an employee.

“My employer said, ‘Yes he works for me. He just started and yes, my payroll company does pay him that much,’” McCowns explained.

Brooklyn Police confirmed to Cleveland 19 News that there was no fraud. McCowns said he believes bank employees were racially profiling him.

McCowns was able to cash the check the next day at a different bank location with no problem. A Huntington spokesperson released a statement apologizing for the incident

“We sincerely apologize to Mr. McCowns for this extremely unfortunate event. We accept responsibility for contacting the police as well as our own interactions with Mr. McCowns,” the statement read. “Anyone who walks into a Huntington branch should feel welcomed. Regrettably, that did not occur in this instance and we are very sorry. We hold ourselves accountable to the highest ethical standards in how we operate, hire and train colleagues, and interact with the communities we have the privilege of serving.”