The largest bank in the United States, JP Morgan Chase, found itself the subject of a federal class action lawsuit this week. The complaint alleges that after hindering customers from buying cryptocurrencies, the bank charged enthusiasts extra fees and higher interest rates.
JP Morgan Chase Subject of Million Dollar Class Action
Brady Tucker et al v Chase Bank USA, filed in U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, 18-3155, Manhattan, was initiated by San Diego-based law firm, Finkelstein & Krinsk LLP, a class action specialist. Mr. Tucker of Idaho, plaintiff, claims he incurred $143.30 in fees, and $20.61 in sudden interest charges over five crypto transactions during late January and early February. And while by itself it might appear trivial, magnified by untold thousands of customers, and the numbers begin to get substantial. Mr. Tucker also claims “upon purchasing a cryptocurrency from Coinbase.com or another online crypto merchant,” he was saddled with cash advance fees in violation of his original terms and conditions.
JP Morgan has been particularly aggressive when it comes to cryptocurrency, especially bitcoin. Its, at times, curmudgeonly CEO, Jamie Dimon, has waged a quotable war for years, referring to cryptos as a fraud, tulip bulbs, and even calling enthusiasts stupid, insisting he’d immediately fire an employee if he found them dabbling in crypto. He’d later attempt to walk back some of his harsher statements. At one point it even appeared he might dabble in bitcoin futures. In any event, it’s not beyond the scope of things to believe JP Morgan would have a particular, separate policy for crypto enthusiasts.
Indeed, Mr. Tucker attempted to dispute charges but JP Morgan outright refused any consideration, he insisted. According to Reuters, without warning the bank “stuck the plaintiff with the bill, after the fact of his transactions, and insisted that he pay it,” the lawsuit is quoted. The suit was filed in federal court, and accuses the bank of “charging surprise fees when it stopped letting customers buy cryptocurrency with credit cards in late January and began treating the purchases as cash advances.”
Stupid Employees, Stupid Customers
It appears the bank charged extra fees and higher interest on cash advances, and refused refunds once customers brought it to their attention. Mary Jane Rogers of JP Morgan would not comment on the case’s claims, but she did say the bank halted crypto purchases because of the associated risks. She said customers were free to use debit cards without incurring such premiums.
“Chase silently smacked them with instant-cash-advance fees, plus much higher interest rates than normal, and left them without any recourse,” Mr. Tucker is quoted in the complaint. Furthermore, the lawsuit alleges JP Morgan Chase to have flagrantly usurped the Truth in Lending Act, legislation requiring customer notice when substantial changes are made to an account’s terms. “The lawsuit is asking for actual damages and statutory damages of $1 million,” Reuters reported.
According to the complaint, “The complete lack of fair notice to Chase’s cardholders caused them to unknowingly incur millions of dollars in cash advance fees and sky-high interest charges on each and every crypto purchase.” Mr. Tucker continued, “It appears that in addition to firing its ‘stupid’ employees, Chase elected to start fining its ‘stupid’ customers: unilaterally.”
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