Nearly $109M in Yotta customer deposits vanish

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Ledgers of the failed fintech middleman Synapse show that nearly all the deposits held for customers of the banking app Yotta went missing weeks ago, according to one of the lenders involved.

A network of eight banks held $109 million in deposits for Yotta customers as of April 11, Evolve Bank & Trust said in a bankruptcy court letter filed late Thursday.

About one month later, the ledger showed just $1.4 million in Yotta funds held at one of the banks, Evolve said. It added that neither customers nor Evolve received funds in that time period.

“These irregularities in Synapse’s ledgering of Yotta end user funds are just one example of the many discrepancies that Evolve has observed,” the bank said. “A detailed investigation of what happened to these funds, or alternatively, why the Synapse-provided ledger reflected money movement that did not actually occur, must be undertaken.”

Evolve, one of the key players in a deepening predicament that has left more than 100,000 fintech customers locked out of their bank accounts since May 11, has been attempting to piece together with other banks a record of who is owed what. Its former partner Synapse, which connected customer-facing fintech apps to FDIC-backed banks, filed for bankruptcy in April amid disputes about customer balances.

But Evolve itself was reprimanded by the Federal Reserve last week for failing to properly manage its fintech partnerships. The regulator noted that Evolve “engaged in unsafe and unsound banking practices” and forced the bank to improve oversight of its fintech program. The Fed said the enforcement action was separate from the Synapse bankruptcy.

Yotta CEO and co-founder Adam Moelis said in response to this article that Synapse has said in court filings that Evolve held nearly all Yotta customers deposits. Evolve and Synapse disagree over who holds the funds and who is responsible for the frozen accounts.

“According to the Synapse trial balance report provided on May 17, there are $112 million of customer funds held at Evolve,” Moelis said.

Evolve, which is headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee-based, had this statement late Friday:

“We believe that a meticulous forensic accounting investigation will reveal that these purported funds are not, and were not, in Evolve’s possession, contrary to Synapse’s claims,” a spokesman told CNBC. “Evolve will continue cooperating with the Trustee and other banks to perform reconciliation and determine the most appropriate path forward for any funds actually held at Evolve.”

The bank has been trying to separate itself from Synapse since late 2022 because of ledger problems it has found, the Evolve spokesman said.

Unclear timeline

Pleading with regulators

Meanwhile, the disruption to thousands of fintech customers has stretched into its sixth week. Many Yotta customers contacted by CNBC said they used the service as their primary checking account, and have had their lives turned upside down by the situation.

In a letter sent Thursday, McWilliams pleaded with five U.S. regulators to get more involved in the Synapse collapse, asking for resources to help impacted customers understand where their funds are held and to aid communication with banks.

“The impact of Synapse’s bankruptcy on end-users has been devastating,” McWilliams wrote to the regulators. “Many end-users are unable to pay for basic living expenses and food. I appreciate your prompt attention to this request and respectfully request that your agencies act on it as quickly as possible.”

McWilliams is scheduled to present her latest status report in the bankruptcy case during a hearing starting 1 p.m. E.T. Friday.


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