A cache of counterfeit currency was discovered at a Chase bank branch when an elderly customer opened the wrong safety deposit box, the Daily News has learned.
The bizarre incident began innocently enough last Thursday when the longtime customer requested access to his box at the Huntington, L.I., bank branch, according to papers filed in Brooklyn Federal Court.
Accompanied by an assistant manager, the customer was escorted to the bank vault, where he attempted to open Box No. 142 with his key, but it didn’t fit, say court papers.
The assistant manager noticed the key was marked for Box No. 304 and opened that box instead. It contained two large packages of what appeared to be funny money.
“(The customer) stated he was confused . . . and claimed he did not know how that much money got into his safety deposit box,” according to court papers.
The puzzled customer — described as an “elderly gentleman” — returned the next day with two keys to two boxes — No. 142 and No. 304 — and was accompanied this time by a pair of U.S. Secret Service agents whom JPMorgan Chase had contacted.
First the customer used the key marked No. 142 and found legal documents bearing his name and several thousand dollars in genuine currency. Box No. 304 contained $112,000 in fake Federal Reserve Notes.
The branch manager solved the mystery when he noticed the customer’s key for the box containing the stash of counterfeit money was enclosed in an envelope marked “Bank of New York.”
The Chase branch had previously been a Bank of New York, and the elderly customer apparently had closed out his safety deposit box No. 304 without returning the key.
JPMorgan Chase apparently did not change the boxes’ locks when it took over the branch and gave box No. 304 to a new customer — who has some explaining to do to the Secret Service .
The current safety deposit box holder, a Huntington resident, has not yet been charged.
A piece of tape wrapped around the counterfeit notes was marked with the current box holder’s initials, authorities said.