SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. -- It's a payroll nightmare that is causing chaos for businesses across the country. The sudden and unexplained shutdown of a third-party payroll firm has left employees scrambling after paychecks were debited from their accounts, in some cases multiple times.
Businesses impacted by this first saw the amount of their recent paycheck wiped from their account late last week, they quickly realized they're not alone. Victims turned to social media, and just since Thursday a Facebook group dedicated to them has reached nearly 2,000.
"I've had the franchise for 20 years," said business owner Matt Anderson. "I started with a van and a lunchbox.
Anderson says he loves the work he does at his shop, Novus Auto Glass. He also enjoys who he gets to do that work with.
"I have six employees," he said. "We are what they call a small business."
Anderson turned to a New York-based company called My Payroll HR to help him manage a few things. Their website promises to "make it simple."
"Our payroll system is on an automatic deposit for our employees," he said. "Once we process payroll on the online platform, the payment happens. For the last four years, it's gone smoothly."
But Thursday, it didn't.
"Apparently, the third-party provider we use had an issue," Anderson said. "We still don't know what that issue is, which is one of the most frustrating things about this. Our employees had a debit to their account which withdrew their full payroll out of their accounts."
And from there, things got worse.
"Subsequently, we had a second withdraw the next day," Anderson said. "I wrote a second paycheck to my employees to make sure they were covered. The next day, (their accounts were wiped) again."
That's when Anderson and his employees headed down to their banks.
"Checking accounts have been changed so future attempts to get in are blocked, but the attempts are still happening," he said. "The reason we called Hayley is that we are stuck in the dark."
Anderson says they haven't had any contact with the company in five days. News coverage from across the country shows they are not alone, and while that provides some measure of comfort, it doesn't get their books in order.
"We're running a business every day," he said. "We're working with an accountant to sort things out and get back on track. We're on a new payroll cycle. Employees need to be paid. We're dealing with the shortfall on our side as a business standpoint so they can have a normal job."
And until they get the answers they are so desperate for, they just hope customers will continue to do what they have for years.
"We've been in town a long time, thankfully we have a business that is stable but this is going to affect the future of our business and our ability to grow," he said.
National reports indicate the governor in New York is calling for a full investigation into the matter.
According to the FBI, they are now seeking information from business owners who may have suffered financial loss due to the alleged activity of MyPayrollHR and its affiliates.
Owners are asked to email MyPayrollHRVictims@fbi.gov with company contact information, number of employees, and the estimated financial impact to the business and its employees.