On July 30, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ("SJC") issued an important decision in a Ponzi scheme captioned Go-Best Assets Limited v. Citizens Bank of Massachusetts, 463 Mass. 50 (2012).
In the course of performing their job duties, bank tellers and their supervisors may occasionally be asked to perform a transaction that appears to be somewhat suspicious. For example, a non-customer of the bank may arrive in the teller line and ask to cash a large check drawn on an account of one of the bank's customers. In some such cases, bank personnel may come to believe that the subject transaction is fraudulent. While most banks have very detailed procedures for addressing these situations, bank personnel must sometimes make a quick decision about whether to alert law enforcement personnel. In certain cases, though, bank employees may have concerns about whether they will incur civil liability to the non-customer if they alert the police but the transaction ultimately turns out to be legitimate. While such concerns are certainly understandable in our highly litigious society, bank personnel can take some comfort in knowing that federal law provides them with considerable protection in these situations.