Phoenix man says money held 'hostage'

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- A Phoenix man says his prepaid credit card had $1,700 one minute, the next, it was gone.  

It's an American Express prepaid card and prepaid cards usually work pretty well.  But for one guy a weird problem separated him from his $1,700.

Joseph Cady doesn't have a bank account, so he handles financial transactions through an American Express "serve" card.

It works by putting money onto the card and then spending it when Joseph needs to.

"You just direct deposit money and you can pull out your own money it's not a credit card, it's a prepaid card," he explained.

Joseph says it's so handy he even got his fiancée a "serve" card to share off his account.

“My fiancée has a sub account on my account, I had her direct deposit linked to it," said Joseph.

Joseph says the shared accounts worked out pretty, at least for a while.

“Now they locked my account permanently, they closed it, with the $1,779.18 in it and now I can't have access to my funds, they refuse to send it back,” he complained.

According to Joseph, although he had more than $1,700 on the American Express card,  he was prevented from accessing it for some reason.

So, 3 On Your Side contacted American Express to see what was going on. 

They immediately looked into the matter and said due to privacy reasons they couldn't discuss why exactly they closed Joseph's account, but said they had every right to do so.

Regardless, they did return the $1,700 to Joseph and Joseph says he couldn't be happier.

Statement from American Express:

I wanted to let you know that we’ve looked into Joseph Cady’s issue and can confirm the money previously in his Serve account has been fully refunded.

Due to American Express’ privacy policy, we can’t share details of this customer’s case with you.   But we can share how things generally work, which I hope will help answer your questions. 

For example, we can confirm, our platform allows for multiple direct deposits to enter one account as long as the account holder has approved the deposit. Someone would be in violation of our Terms & Conditions, however, if they use a funding source outside of our allowable list. The allowable list, which is provided in our Terms & Conditions, as well as the “Help Center” FAQS section of our website, includes: bank account(s), check(s), person-to-person money transfer(s), direct deposit(s), credit card(s) and or debit card(s). 

Please also note that we would not close an account without informing a customer and walking them through the steps to fix the issue.