Back in the early 2000s I had just re-financed my home with BOA when shortly after (about 1 year) they made a corporate policy change that enabled illegals to get loans. They no longer demanded social security numbers and accepted a Mexican ID card and some other form of ID in the states.

I went to my local branch and enquired about it. The manager flat out lied to me.

I called him out on it and he did not back down.

That was when I decided I would no longer support Bank of America.

A week later I walked in, told the cashier I was closing my accounts and when she asked about the loan I handed her a check, written on their bank, to pay it off. Also made sure to tell her why I did it and that she should tell the manager.

Fast forward 15 years and I read BOA freezes bank accounts from those who can’t prove they are here legally.

What’s disturbing is the story focuses on one guy: a foreign student.

Who’s been studying here for SEVEN YEARS!!!!

He’s studying for his PHD in PHYSICS!!

He just married an American woman.

He’s from IRAN.

Am I the only one who sees something seriously wrong here?

Saeed Moshfegh woke up earlier this month to discover the strangest thing: though he had plenty of money in his Bank of America account, he couldn’t access it.

An Iranian getting his Ph.D in physics at the University of Miami, Moshfegh used the account for everyday transactions. All he had to do to maintain the account was show proof of legal residency every six months.

“I think it’s onerous, but I’d been doing it,” said Moshfegh, who has lived in the U.S. for the past seven years. He recently married an American.

That Thursday, Moshfegh went to his local branch near South Miami. He was told that the documentation he had provided could not be accepted. Bank officials insisted he produce a different form, according to Moshfegh. The bank was wrong, he maintains, because the form he had supplied was the correct one based on his current status as a student nearing graduation.

“This bank doesn’t know how the immigration system works, so they didn’t accept my document,” said Moshfegh, 36.

Locked out of his account, Moshfegh couldn’t pay his rent, which was due that week. Credit card payments were suddenly rejected.

His case isn’t unique. In recent months, Bank of America has been accused of freezing or threatening to freeze customers’ accounts after asking about their legal status in the U.S. In July, the Kansas City Star reported on a couple who had been locked out of their accounts after Bank of America questioned whether the account holders were U.S. citizens or dual citizens.

According to the Star, Kansas-born Josh Collins received an unusual-looking letter purportedly from the bank asking about his citizenship status. He said he thought the mailer was spam and ignored it—only to have his account frozen a few weeks later.

After Collins’ story was reported, he and his wife received messages from others who had been locked out of their accounts for weeks, the Star reported.

Tennessee native David Lewis says he received the same suspicious-looking letter as Collins. In an interview with the Miami Herald, Lewis said he has maintained an account with Bank of America for about 30 years. In the letter, the bank inquired about his citizenship, income, and Social Security number.

When he called Bank of America, he was told his account would be frozen if he did not fill out the forms. That phone conversation led him to cancel his account, he said. “One would think a national bank would be careful about looking stupid after Wells Fargo,” he said, referring to Wells’ having been accused of creating millions of unauthorized accounts.

Proof of citizenship is not required to open a bank account in the U.S., according to Stephanie Collins, a spokesperson for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the federal agency that supervises branch banking. Banks are merely required to identify and report suspicious transactions and maintain and update customer information, she said. Banks have not received any new instructions to collect more information about customers.

In response to an inquiries from the Miami Herald, Bank of America spokesperson Carla Molina said she could not comment on specific cases. But she said there had been no change in how Bank of America collects information from customers, including citizenship, in at least a decade. The bank attempts to contact customers before the change the status of their bank accounts, she said.

“There’s nothing new,” Molina said.

Paulina Gonzalez, executive director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, told the Herald she disagrees.

“We work with consumer groups and financial counselors in immigrant communities across [California] and the country,” she said in an email. “This is new. We have Bank of America customers who we’ve spoken to who have never been asked this before last year. If they have this asked of them before they can show us proof.”

In recent months, her group has received several complaints about being asked for proof of citizenship; almost all have come from Bank of America customers, she said. An article in American Banker magazine also highlighted Bank of America as the one institution specifically facing backlash for its policies.

Spokespersons for Wells Fargo and Citibank both said they may ask about customers’ citizenship to maintain compliance with know-your-customer and anti-money laundering rules. They said no new policies asking for citizenship status have been put in place.

Molina, the Bank of America spokesperson, said the new customer complaints may simply be a response to heightened sensitivities to the debate over immigration in the U.S.

But Gonzalez said the bank’s scrutiny has created a chilling effect in immigrant communities already feeling pressure from the Trump Administration’s crackdown on foreign-born residents.

“Fear is gripping these communities,” Gonzalez said. “It’s like walking into a grocery store to buy milk and being asked for your citizenship at checkout—banking is one of the core aspects of daily life in this country. To be faced with this question in order to do banking seems as un-American as you can get.”

Gonzalez’s coalition has now launched a petition, “Tell Bank of America: Stand with immigrants,” that accuses the bank of abetting the Trump Administration’s crackdown on immigrants, and calls on the bank to to “protect immigrants’ civil rights and stop collecting information about the citizenship status of its customers.” The petition has received more than 61,000 signatures since Aug. 29.

Dan Hernandez, a Broward County native of Cuban heritage now working as a TV writer in Los Angeles, said he had his business account suspended by Bank of America in December 2016. When he asked why, he was told he was under suspicion of doing business with Cuba. His corporation was called Cuban Missile Inc.—”Cuban Missile” has been his nickname since childhood.

“I started screaming that this was racist,” he said. “Like, did you go through every company that had ’Jewish bagels’ in its name, or how about calling someone with ‘Korean BBQ’ to see if they’re doing business with Kim Jong Un?”

He eventually Tweeted at the bank’s social media account—and had his situation resolved within 45 minutes. He says he feels lucky that he was able to leverage that platform and his status to get a relatively quick fix, because he is certain others do not have the ability to do so.

“It was extremely scary,” Hernandez, 34, said. “I knew I didn’t do anything wrong, but it puts doubt in your mind. A bank can crush your life for arbitrary reasons and never tell you why.”

For Moshfegh, the Miami physics student, it was not until he’d had conversations with multiple Bank of America officials that he was able to convince them to let him withdraw all his funds; Bank of America would not let him keep the account.

“It’s not the business of Bank of America to shut down someone’s account,” he said. “Immigration officers are different from Bank of America—with a bank, I would like to feel respect…[and be treated] how they treat other customers. But they treat me as an alien.”

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  1. Call me Infidel says:

    Something doesn’t add up with this mad mullah. If he is legally in the US he will have a visa in his passport. If he is legally in the US that is.

  2. Eskyman says:

    I’ll gladly stipulate that Bank of America and Wells Fargo Bank are both unscupulous crapweasels, and that their main interest in life is separating people from their money in order to put it in their own pockets; but this story really causes me heartburn, because I also have no use for Iranians.

    The next step in the saga will be when the Iranian, and his American wife, go back to Iran. Then the wife will discover that she, being a woman, has no rights. He can do whatever he likes, and she has no say in it; “their” kids are actually his, and if she tries to escape she’ll have to leave them behind. She’ll also be taking a big risk, as moslems, being barbarian savages (yes, even the ones studying nuclear physics: what do you think he’s going to do with his knowledge?) can and will stone her to death in the public square if she’s caught, after whipping her almost to death while the savages laugh.

    So my heartstrings aren’t tugged by this sad story. I hope both parties lose!

  3. bogsidebunny says:

    ***”I’ll gladly stipulate that Bank of America and Wells Fargo Bank are both unscupulous crapweasels, and that their main interest in life is separating people from their money in order to put it in their own pockets”***


    Isn’t that what capitalist institutions are suppose to do, errr, like make lots money so their stocks will go up and they will grow? Maybe too many people (I admit guilt) don’t read the small print, is on their side and assume the institution is “looking out for their interests. If people want handouts and benevolent treatment maybe they should apply for mortgages through the Salvation Army.

  4. Leonard Jones says:

    I needed a cashiers check for a mail order purchase back in the same time
    frame. BofA was so close to where I lived I walked there. While standing
    in line, I noticed a shit-ton of signs in Spanish. I do not speak or read much
    Spanish, but I got enough to tell me they were offering all kinds of loans
    for homes cars, etc. When I get to the teller, I am told no dice because
    I was not one of their “clients.” In the E-mail nastygram I sent them I
    made a big deal about their refusing to serve an American citizen with
    valid ID while bending over backward to illegal aliens.

    BofA services all kind of government benefits; Welfare, Social Security
    and other programs through EBT cards with the BofA logo. I see only
    two possibilities; Either they are losing money serving the illegals
    or someone at HHS gave them an ultimatum. If it is the former, the
    Felonia von Pantsuit would have thrown the BofA more money. If
    someone in the Trump administration put the hammer down, it looks
    like the beginning of another Trump campaign promise kept.

    This could be STAGGERING! We could be talking about tens of millions
    of illegal aliens. If those accounts are frozen, this is a big deal!
    Maria is sucking off the government tit for her and her 4 children. She
    gets welfare, SNAP, rent subsidies, utility subsidies etc. That’s at least
    40k a year without education and healthcare. Her esposo Juan is pulling
    down 15 to 20 an hour as a laborer. If their account is frozen, they are
    fucked like Hogan’s goat. I see a long walk South for millions of people
    in the near future!

  5. Drew45.8 says:

    It’s an excellent scam, and I bet they’ve been getting away with it for ages. Open accounts for foreigners – maybe even deliberately seek out illegal ones – and let them get used to banking and credit cards and stuff. Then lower the boom once they build up a decent balance, demand papers they can’t produce, lock them out of their money. Oh, we’ll clear it up in court. In about 18 months. Riiight. Meanwhile, the foreigners go belly up and have to leave the country. BOA pockets the money.

    Personally, as much as I want the illegals to leave, that exit should be generated by our government, not shady businesses.

  6. Leonard Jones says:

    Drew, let me ask one question: What makes you think this is not the result of
    government action? BofA manages the benefits for the vast majority of the
    people on the welfare dole (including illegal aliens.) All it would take is for
    someone in the government to whisper in the ear of the CEO of BofA that
    his company would lose the whole enchilada if they continued to do business
    illegal aliens. Trust me, BofA would never freeze these accounts on their own.
    Let’s say that 10 percent of social services benefits went to illegals. Why would
    they voluntarily act to freeze their accounts and take a 10 percent hit on the
    money the government pays them to service their accounts? The only answer
    I could come up with is they were pressured into taking this action.

  7. Eskyman says:

    Bogside, point taken; but there’s a difference between capitalism and unbridled swindles.

    Have you noticed that there are fewer and fewer small neighborhood banks anymore? They’ve all been eaten up by the big ones, who are hand in glove with the Feds to stifle competition. Bush & Obama did the bank “bailouts,” remember? Tons of taxpayer money shovelled into the pockets of big banks, who happily took it.

    Did anyone go to jail for screwing up the economy so badly they had to be bailed out? No, of course not. “Capitalism” enforced by the Feds isn’t real capitalism, it’s crony capitalism. The big banks pay off the politicians, who give them whatever they want. It’s an exclusive club, but anyone can join- all you need is around $200 Billion and a few bought politicians, and you too can have a bank of your very own!

    Or maybe I’m wrong, and the Mafia were just businessmen. They were arguably more honest than the Feds!

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