DETROIT (WJBK) - Imagine inheriting thousands of dollars only to be told you can't touch that money. That's happening right now to a woman in Detroit. Her entire account is frozen and now she's worried she won't be able to pay her bills.
The single mom says her son's graduation party is on hold, and she is not sure how long the lights will stay on in her home. The thing is, she has all the money she needs but it's worthless.
"I feel like my money is being held hostage," says Christina Anderson. "Every single dime is tied up in that bank." And her bank, Bank of America, says it is just doing things by the book in the name of protecting customers.
This all started with a personal tragedy.
"I had a little brother and he passed away, and my dad had a lawsuit from that," Anderson explains. From that lawsuit, more than $50,000 was wired into her Bank of America account on May 20. The procedure, she was told, was to place a two-hour hold on the money while the bank investigated its origins. After that, she was told, it is hers to do with as she pleases. And she did - withdrawing thousands just days apart without a problem.
"I went to two banks before that, drew $8,000; drew $5,000; no questions," she says. "'Just swipe your card and enter your pin, ma'am.'"
Then her car was totaled on May 24, so she went to get another $5,000 at the branch in Dearborn.
"The guy behind the counter started asking me where did I get the money from, and a bunch of questions" she says. "And I told him, I feel that's none of his business, so I'm going to go to another branch where I feel more comfortable."
And when she went to that second bank -- "They told me my account on hold, it has been frozen for fraud."
So Anderson started asking questions, and admittedly got upset.
"'I feel like you guys are discriminating against me; is it because I'm black?' And then ... she told me to leave out the back because I was upset," Anderson says. "Yes, I was [upset]. I was mad because these are my funds; why can't I receive my funds?"
Since then, she claims she's been in the dark as to why. In the meantime, bills and hungry mouths are starting to mount up.
"My rent is due today," she says. "I have four children. What am I supposed to do? I've got to be at work tomorrow morning. I work in West Bloomfield. I have no vehicle to get there. What am I supposed to do when I haven't done anything wrong here?"
Bank of America issued this statement regarding Anderson's situation:
"We've frozen the customer's account under the terms of our Deposit Agreement and Disclosures. In the agreement, if at any time we believe a customers' account may be subject to irregular, unauthorized, fraudulent or illegal activity, we may, in our discretion, freeze the funds in the account and in other accounts they maintain with us, without any liability to the customer, until we are able to complete our investigation of the account and transactions."
"I thought I was being safe putting money in the bank, but it seems I'm safer putting it under my mattress," Anderson says.
A banking expert told FOX 2 that under the Patriot Act, clerks undergo training to spot fraudulent activity. He also said it is not cut and dry rules, and that clerks are often using their own intuition when it comes to suspecting fraud.
Bank of America has not given a timeline when Anderson's case will be settled, but she said she was told it could last up to a year.