She Talked to Chuck, and Didn't Like It
CHICAGO (CN) - Charles Schwab took an elderly woman's $650,000 but refused to invest it as she wanted, needlessly sent police to her house, and lost $14,000 for her while refusing to give the money back, the woman claims in court.
Kathleen Szewczyk sued Charles Schwab & Co. and affiliates, and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago Department of Social Services, in Cook County Court.
Szewczyk has 35 years of experience in accounting, she says in the complaint. She is listed on LinkedIn, the networking website, as a Chicago-area accounting professional.
Szewczyk she opened two accounts with Schwab in June 2011, funded them with $650,000, and placed orders for Apple and Google shares and call options, she says in the lawsuit.
While she was eating dinner out on July 1, 2011, Szewczyk says, neighbors in suburban Hoffman Estates called to tell her that "police officers were at her home, purportedly investigating her mental and financial well-being. The neighbors were told that the investigation related to her Schwab accounts."
Two days later, on July 3, Szewczyk says, she received a letter from Catholic Charities, "purportedly investigating her mental and financial well-being."
"Catholic Charities purportedly contacted plaintiff about her mental clarity and ability to manage her own financial affairs based on allegations of elder abuse made by Schwab Bank and related to the accounts opened in June 2011," Szewczyk says in the complaint.
She says she told Catholic Charities "that she had nearly 35 years of accounting experience and was well suited to manager her own financial affairs, and requested that they cease and desist from any further involvement."
Szewczyk says she called the police and told them the same thing.
Nonetheless, she says, "the Hoffman Estates police department and Catholic Charities, at the behest of Schwab Bank, continued questioning friends and neighbors about plaintiff's mental and financial well-being."
On July 6, "the Schwab defendants sent plaintiff a letter, notifying her that they closed her accounts"-but they wouldn't give her money back, Szewczyk says.
"Although Charles Schwab & Co. notified plaintiff in the July 6, 2011, letter that the account needed to be liquidated, it froze plaintiff's accounts and refused to release the funds or any account information to plaintiff.
"At no time whatsoever, was plaintiff ever able to access the money deposited in the Schwab accounts," Szewczyk says in the complaint.
To top it off, police came to her home two more times to investigate her mental health.
Szewczyk says she had to hire an attorney to get her money back from Schwab.
"After plaintiff's attorney contacted Schwab, they finally agreed to release $400,000.00," Szewczyk says. But it took Schwab more than 60 days to send the money to her account at Harris Bank.
"Schwab, however, refused to release the balance of her funds, purportedly for safekeeping plaintiff's interests, despite plaintiff's demands that the entire amount be liquidated and transferred," Szewczyk says.
The complaint continues: "On September 26, 2011, after multiple requests by plaintiff's attorney, Charles Schwab transferred plaintiff's remaining funds into an account at Harris Bank.
"Significantly, during the time that Schwab was 'safekeeping' plaintiff's money, and denying her access to the funds, it maintained plaintiff's money in a 'general investment account' which lost $14,000.00 during the time it refused plaintiff access."
She seeks the lost income from the shares and call options Schwab failed to order, and the lost value of the money held in the general investment account.
She also wants punitive damages for consumer fraud, failure to execute a payment order, breach of contract and emotional distress.
She is represented by David Ellis with the Freydin Law Firm in Skokie.
One of Charles Schwab's slogans is "Talk to Chuck."