(CN) - A caretaker drained an elderly man's account in the months before his death by cashing forged checks at a Bank of America branch where employees failed to conduct "even the most minimal due diligence," the man's sons claim in court.
In a Broward County lawsuit against Bank of America, brothers Philip and Anthony Makes claim caretaker Lemwell Seymour was permitted to cash a slew of forged checks on their 88-year-old father's account.
The father, John Makes, had purportedly hired Seymour through nonparty Valuecare at Home, a nurse registry whose website boasts it will "find a caregiver at the lowest rate for your needs."
According to the lawsuit, from April 2014 to January 2015, Seymour wrote more than 20 checks to himself in the total amount of $84,000, forging the signature of John Makes.
Defendant Bank of America "aimlessly cashed" the checks despite "striking and obvious differences" between the check signatures and John Makes' signature on file, the pleading claims.
Makes had been a customer of the bank since 1994.
His mental capacity had diminished in the final months of his life, making it difficult for him to recognize the fraud, the complaint alleges. The massive withdrawals from his account allegedly went unnoticed until his son Philip received power of attorney over him in January.
The Fort Lauderdale Police Department arrested Seymour and charged him with elderly exploitation and check forgery in March, county records state. A fraud charge was tacked on later, the records indicate.
John Makes passed away in April at the age of 88.
According to the lawsuit, Bank of America refunded his family for several thousand dollars in debit card transactions by Seymour, but refused to reimburse the vast majority of the $84,000 worth of check withdrawals.
In a letter to Philip Makes, the bank wrote that accountholders have a responsibility to monitor their withdrawal statements, and because a set 30-day window to recognize and report the alleged fraud was missed, the bank could not be held liable for the loss.
"Your claim was not received within the allowable timeframes therefore, the Bank is not legally responsible for reimbursing you, " Bank of America's claims department wrote.
Phil countered in the lawsuit that his father ostensibly could not review account statements, as Seymour was in a position to intercept them.
The estate is represented by Brittany Henderson with Farmer Jaffe in Fort Lauderdale.
Seymour's defense attorney Eliot Lupkin did not respond to a Nov. 18 request for comment.
Seymour has filed a not-guilty plea in the criminal case.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.