A stand-up comedian Pete George may be humorous on stage, but attempting to obtain his Middle Class Tax Refund has been a nightmare.
“I just don’t like people getting away with things like this, or companies getting away with it,” he stated.
George was eligible for a reimbursement of $350. “It’s nice, it’ll pay for five lattes,” he laughed. He was scheduled to receive his debit card in January, but it never arrived. So he phoned Money Network, the organization contracted by the state to run the program. “And they said, ‘Oh you’ve cashed it in,'” he explained.
According to George, Money Network informed him that the card had been depleted at a nearby ATM. So he filed a dispute straight away, but Money Network has been giving him the runaround.
The NBC4 I-Team initially reported on this issue months ago, shortly after the debit cards were sent. Consumers began to file complaints, claiming that they never received their card or that the money on it had vanished. According to experts, clever crooks were electronically taking the money from the cards.
Lorraine Weekes of the legal firm Kneupper & Covey is now suing Money Network.
“People began contacting my law firm and saying, ‘Hey, I need help.'” “I’m supposed to get a Middle Class Tax Refund,” she explained.
Money Network’s $25 million deal with the state states that it would “prevent fraud at a success rate of 99% or higher.” Weekes does not believe this is the case.
“I think one time I waited (on hold on the phone) for an hour and a half,” George recalled.
Weekes claims that residents like George are unable to contact Money Network to report fraud.
“If you’re hanging up on people and making people wait extremely long times to report fraud,” Weekes said, “I think those numbers will be underreported because it’s virtually impossible for a normal person to get through on the phone and report fraud.”
Security Concerns Arise as Money Network Fails to Deliver Chip-Embedded Cards Despite Obligation
Money Network was also obligated by the deal to include chips on the cards, making them more secure. However, many cards lack them. The state explained it to the I-Team as a result of supply chain concerns, but Weekes argued that’s no justification.
“Our point is that you are not required to accept this contract worth millions of dollars from California taxpayers.” “However, if you volunteer and say, ‘We’re going to do that,’ you must do a good job and do what you say you’re going to do,” she explained.
Money Network stated in a statement to the I-Team that it does not comment on current litigation, but that it “takes its obligation to serve California residents seriously.” It also stated that it had “successfully distributed more than 9 million debit cards” and that it had “limited the fraud rate to an amount well below the contractual requirement.”
“Whether I get the money or not, it’s OK. Of course, it’s always good to acquire what’s rightfully yours,” George explained.
If you haven’t gotten your money yet, you may learn more about the case here.
The initiative is also being investigated by the state auditor. It informed the I-Team that its report will be completed later this year.
Source: NBC Los Angeles