BY Francis Akhalbey, 8:01am March 15, 2022,

Another Black man wrongfully accused of trying to cash a fake check, this time in Arizona

Almond Brewer was waiting to cash a check at the Pinal County Federal Credit Union when the manager called police to report the check was fake -- Screenshot via 12 News

A bank in Arizona called the police on a Black man while he was trying to cash a check he had received as payment for a boat sale. According to 12 News, Almond Brewer was waiting to cash a $3,200 check at the Pinal County Federal Credit Union at Apache Junction when the manager called police to report the check he had presented was fake.

But that wasn’t the case as the bank later acknowledged the check’s authenticity was “inconclusive.” The manager, however, did not disclose that to the police when he made the call.

Brewer said he received the check from a woman as payment for a boat he sold to her on Facebook Marketplace. He added that his bank advised him to deposit the check at the woman’s bank to facilitate a quicker transaction. But he said the credit union teller who attended to him “kind of looked surprised” when he gave her his details.

The bank informed 12 News that the manager called the police to report Brewer after a 3rd party verification system processed the check. Its authenticity came out as inconclusive. The bank also stated that while the police were heading to the bank, the manager contacted the customer who issued the check.

But bodycam footage by police reportedly revealed the officers did not know the customer had confirmed the check for around 10 minutes. Brewer said the October incident negatively affected him, and he hasn’t “been inside a bank since.”

“It was just, ‘oh, you know, Black guy locks in his hair, tattoos came on a Harley, you know, let’s assume the worst,’” he said. “Why embarrass somebody like that? Why, you know, make them feel less than a man.”

The bank claimed that the check the Black man presented contained a number of “red flags.” But Matthew Whitaker, a consultant who trains financial establishments on how to prevent these incidents, said the bank should have reached out to the customer before getting in touch with the police.

“That person could’ve been called immediately before anyone called the police. So why escalate that at that point?” Whitaker said. “He [Brewer] was racially profiled.”

Meanwhile, the president and CEO of the credit union released a statement explaining the reason behind their actions. The statement also said the bank apologized to Brewer and local authorities after the manager validated the check.

Below is the full statement:

At no time did the staff feel threatened or feel Mr. Brewer was trying to rob the credit union. As authorities were en route the manager was able to get ahold of the member to obtain verbal verification she had written the check. Once the Manager was able to validate the check they apologized to the local authorities as well as Mr. Brewer for the inconvenience. Even with the member’s verification of authenticity, because of the type of check presented and the fact that Mr. Brewer was not a current member we were unable to proceed with the transaction request.

Recently we have seen an uptick in fraudulent activity and this situation echoed other scenarios throughout our other branch locations. Our ultimate responsibility is to ensure our member’s accounts are safe and secure. We at Pinal County Federal Credit Union employ a diverse workforce and undergo Diversity and Inclusion training annually. With locations throughout Pinal County, we not only serve a diverse membership, we actively support and solicit the entire demographic area.

We will revisit our processes to ensure future situations are and in a manner which unnecessarily puts members and/or non-members in an uncomfortable position. Mr. Brewer, on behalf of Pinal County Federal Credit Union, I would like to formally apologize for this confusing experience while visiting one of our branch locations.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: March 15, 2022

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