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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Nevada bank embezzler gets probation

A Gardnerville woman who used her position at a bank to take $2,100 from a woman's account, received probation on Monday.

Danielle M. Stafford, 28, received a suspended 12-30-month prison sentence, after Judge Michael Gibbons determined that her crime of attempted embezzlement would be treated as a felony.
He told Stafford that she could apply to the court to have the charge reduced down to a gross misdemeanor if she successfully completed two years probation.
“This was premeditated theft from an individual using her ability at the bank,” Gibbons said. “The recommendation is way too lenient.”
Prosecutor Erik Levin recommended a 12-month suspended sentence, while defense attorney Kris Brown and the Nevada Department of Parole and Probation recommended a six-month suspended sentence.
Working in Stafford's favor is that she repaid the money before the bank filed charges.
Levin said he has never had someone do that before, and had to figure out how to handle the money.
Gibbons agreed that the incident appeared to be an aberration in Stafford's behavior.
She had no criminal record, according to Brown.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Helena, Montana man pleads guilty to embezzlement

A 34-year-old Helena man has pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $77,000 from the credit union where he had worked as a loan officer for five years. Ben A. Diveley entered his plea to credit union embezzlement, money laundering and identity theft during his arraignment Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch in Missoula. Sentencing is set for Sept. 24.
Prosecutors say while working at Helena Community Credit Union, Diveley took out loans totaling $75,000 using made up borrower names and guaranteed with a customer's certificate of deposit, without that customer's permission. Diveley says he used the money to pay off bills he ran up through overspending, including nearly $32,000 to Bank of America.
The investigation into Diveley began on April 29.

Former Idaho bank worker sentenced for embezzlement

A Hazelton woman was sentenced to a prison term and ordered to pay $23,000 in restitution after embezzling money from a Burley credit union. Lisa Segura Trevino, 35, was charged with two counts of grand theft, two counts of petit theft, fraud while serving as an employee of a financial institution and forgery after she allegedly transferred money from other people’s accounts at MAP Credit Union, 2307 West Main St., into accounts belonging to herself and other family members, court records state.
Trevino pleaded guilty to single counts of grand theft, fraud while serving as an employee of a financial institution and forgery. According to court records, the prosecutor dismissed the remaining charges.
Trevino was sentenced by Cassia County 5th District Judge Michael Crabtree on May 4 to three to 10 years in prison on the charge of grand theft, three to five years on the fraud charge and three to 10 years on the forgery charge. She was given credit for 57 days served in jail for each count.
According to the criminal complaint, Trevino worked at the credit union for more than three years and quit suddenly after the thefts occurred.
After she quit, records state, the credit union’s manager reviewed her bank account and noticed a string of suspicious deposits.
Trevino allegedly took $16,310 last year from one victim’s account through a series of transactions from July 2 to Aug. 14. Trevino allegedly moved the money from the victim’s account into her own orthose of her children. Court records state she chose the victim because of the account’s high balance.
Trevino allegedly also took $1,000 from the credit union’s cash drawer, along with $200 and $400 from two other account holders.
Crabtree ordered Trevino’s sentences on the three charges to run concurrently.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Former Citizens Bank manager in New York found guilty of embezzling $410,000

A former bank manager embezzled $410,000 in cash from a safe deposit box, a federal jury said Friday night.Thomas Cararo, 40, former manager of Citizens Bank in downtown Binghamton, showed little emotion at the verdict, announced at 6 p.m., just four hours after jury deliberations began in U.S. District Court in Binghamton.
There also was little reaction from Leonard Wilcox, the 79-year-old Dickinson heavy equipment dealer who accused Cararo of taking his cash.
Senior U.S. District Court Judge Thomas J. McAvoy set sentencing for Oct. 8.
Cararo will remain free pending sentencing, the judge said. He could get up to 30 years on one federal count of embezzlement but is more likely to get up to four years under federal sentencing guidelines.
"I'm just really happy for Mr. Wilcox and his family," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Walsh. "It's really been a long road for him."
Whether Wilcox will ever recover any of the $410,000 in missing cash is still unanswered.
A federal civil jury last year awarded $410,000 in damages to Wilcox and blamed Cararo for the loss.
Pursuit of the money continues to be handled in federal civil court, Walsh said.
The jury in the criminal case heard testimony for four days. Midway through deliberations Friday, they asked the judge for a calculator, and with the approval of both defense and prosecution, the judge got them a calculator. It was the only request made by the jury.
Cararo's attorney, Lisa Peebles, a federal public defender from Syracuse, said after the verdict was announced that she was disappointed by Friday's outcome.
"The testimony indicated that Mr. Wilcox was not an honest man," Peebles said. "The case rested on his word and the word of his daughter."
Wilcox testified this week that he kept about $484,000 in cash in a floor safe in his garage. But in 2006 flooding, the cash was soaked and contaminated by sewage. Wilcox testified he took the money to exchange it for new money at the Chenango Bridge branch of Citizens Bank, where Cararo was then the branch manager.

Bank records show about $150,000 in damaged or contaminated money was exchanged. However, tellers at the bank testified this week that they exchanged thousands in cash with Wilcox that wasn't recorded as damaged.
Wilcox testified he took hundreds of thousand of dollars in a shopping bag in October 2006 to the 84 Court St. location of Citizens Bank, where Cararo was transferred as bank manager.
Wilcox put the cash in a safe deposit box, he testified. When he returned on Nov. 7, 2007, to check on his money, the box had been re-drilled and re-keyed. When box No. 418 was opened, all that remained of the $410,000 was $74,000, Wilcox testified.
Banks do not insure the contents of safe deposit boxes, bank officials testified during the trial. Nor do banks want to know what customers keep in the boxes. Using the boxes for cash is not encouraged, officials testified.
Cararo left Citizens in August 2007 for a job with Bank of America in North Carolina. Box No. 418 was drilled and re-keyed in June 2007 at the direction of Cararo, testimony indicated.
An FBI investigation of Cararo's bank records showed Cararo used cash payments of up to $65,000 to pay for home improvements and renovations, as well as furniture, at two houses he owned in the Town of Dickinson. However, the FBI investigation could not account for the amount of cash Cararo was alleged to have taken, Peebles told jurors.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Former Mississippi bank employee charged with embezzlement

A second former Hancock Bank employee has been formally charged with embezzlement in U.S. District Court.The Sun Herald reports that 62-year-old Willie Doris Burney agreed Wednesday to waive her right to a formal grand jury indictment on the charge.
U.S. Magistrate Judge John Roper agreed to release Burney on a $25,000 unsecured bond.
Burney, with attorney Ian A. Brendal by her side, said she did not wish to comment.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ruth Morgan said Burney is accused of stealing millions of dollars from the Hancock Bank main branch in Ocean Springs.
Margaret Migues, the branch's former operations manager, pleaded guilty in May, to one charge of embezzlement.
She is scheduled for sentencing in August
A multimillion-dollar scheme to defraud Hancock Bank’s Ocean Springs main branch began when former branch operations manager Margaret Migues worked as a bank teller, later recruiting co-worker Willie Doris Burney to participate in the conspiracy that eventually grew to include two other former employees, Assistant U.S. Attorney Ruth Morgan said.

That and other new details about the scheme, which started in the 1980s and ended in July 2009, came out in U.S. District Court on June 10 when Burney, 62, pleaded guilty to embezzlement.
The charge carries a sentence of up to 30 years and up to a $1 million fine, though Burney has entered into a plea agreement with the government.
“I believe I speak for the other 2,200 Hancock Bank employees in saying that we are pleased with and completely support the federal government’s investigation and prosecution of someone who has betrayed the trust of our customers and our associates,” Hancock Bank attorney Joy Lambert Phillips said.
“Hancock Bank was founded on the principles of honor and integrity. Thus, we have worked diligently to ensure that all affected customers have been paid in full, including interest.
“We were glad we could be present to hear Doris Burney plead guilty today in federal court to the charges brought against her by the U.S. Attorney’s office.”
Migues already has pleaded guilty to embezzlement. Both women are now scheduled for sentencing Aug. 24. Each remains free on a $25,000 unsecured bond.
The embezzlement scheme started around 1982 when Migues and Burney started working side-by-side as bank tellers. To continue the scheme once Migues was promoted to branch operations manager at the Ocean Springs main branch, Morgan said, Burney turned down promotions to keep her job as a teller working on the front lines.
The two women, along with two unnamed co-conspirators, Morgan said, stole money from the accounts of elderly people they’d befriended.
An independent audit showed a total of $2,386.451.84 stolen from customer accounts between 1995 and July 2009. There were no records before 1995 so the amount embezzled from early 1980 to 1995 is unknown.
All the victims, a total of 44, were between the ages of 71 and 102.
Some of the victims, Morgan said, had died by the time the missing money was discovered and, as a result, their heirs did not receive at the time all the money due those estates.
For years, Morgan said, Migues and Burney, along with the other alleged co-conspirators, hid what they were doing by changing the mailing address on victims’ bank statements to read “do not mail out” or “route to Ocean Springs main branch,” so victims wouldn’t see their statements.
To further conceal the scheme only Migues and Burney and the two other alleged co-conspirators would handle the victims’ transactions, making any necessary changes to the accounts.
In many cases, she said, that would involve the transfer of money from one customer’s account to another; at other times that meant simply cashing cashier’s checks using fraudulent names.
Migues kept track of the embezzled money in a handwritten ledger, Morgan said, so she’d know what the balances on the affected accounts were supposed to be should questions arise.
Only Burney and Migues reportedly handled the ledger entries in an effort to cover up the scheme.
None of the workers involved in the scheme, Morgan said, would take time off at the same time to ensure they could continue the cover-up.
Burney told authorities one of the other co-conspirators had been fired from the bank years earlier for theft of money, but she’d participated in the embezzlement scheme and continued to get shares of the stolen money as a means to keep her quiet.
Burney, Morgan said, met with the fired employee in various parking lots to pay her hush money, usually $1,000 per visit.
On at least one occasion Burney paid the fired employee while they sat in Burney’s car in the bank parking lot.
The last time Burney met with the fired employee, Morgan said, she handed the woman an envelope with a note that read, “There’s no more money. Don’t ask.”
The federal investigation, first prompted after a federal agent noticed money missing from his mother’s account, had surfaced.
In addition, Morgan said, Burney named Migues as the leader of the scheme and said Migues used her share of the cash to buy new cars, and to send one of her sons to medical school and the other to college.
Burney, who said she’s suffering from breast cancer, also told investigators Migues paid off her own home.
Burney claimed, Morgan said, she received between $100,000 and $150,000 over the years, though the government alleges the women divided the money equally, giving the two other alleged co-conspirators considerably less for their participation.
Morgan said the fired employee has since admitted her involvement in the scheme; the other unnamed co-conspirator has denied any knowledge of what happened.
Any charges against those employees have not yet been released, though they are expected to come.
Hancock Bank CEO Carl Chaney first alerted the Sun Herald to the alleged scheme in July, when bank officials abruptly fired Migues and Burney amid the federal investigation.
Hancock Bank officials maintain they have repaid with interest all of the victimized customers.
The FBI is in charge of the investigation.

One Bank in Little Rock, Arkansas Fires Harbert, Alleges Embezzlement

A former commercial loan officer at One Bank & Trust of Little Rock allegedly defrauded the bank of at least $277,800.

One Bank filed suit to recover the funds from Kelly Harbert who allegedly created bogus loans for her own benefit. According to the lawsuit filed Wednesday in Pulaski County Circuit Court, Harbert's scheme involved creating loans in the name of legitimate customers, converting the loan into cashier's checks and depositing the funds into an IberiaBank account she controlled.
Harbert, 44, a senior vice president with the bank since February 2001, was confronted by One Bank officials and fired June 3 after she allegedly admitted her wrongdoing. A call to her home phone number was not answered late Wednesday afternoon.
According to the complaint, Harbert said she was "under severe financial difficulties" and the funds were used to pay loans at other banks.
The lawsuit alleges that she admitted that two $50,000 loans made in the names of her parents were for her benefit and made without her parents' knowledge or consent.
The complaint accuses Harbert of conversion and breach of fiduciary duty.
The bank is seeking a temporary restraining order for bank accounts at "IberiaBank, Regions Bank and perhaps Capital Bank, Arvest Bank and Summit Bank" in hopes of recovering some of the funds.
Little Rock attorney Greg Hopkins, who filed the civil suit on One Bank's behalf, said Harbert's scheme had been reported to FinCen, the U.S. Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Former North Carolina bank manager charged with embezzling customer's $410,000

When floodwaters invaded Leonard Wilcox's garage in 2006, they left in their wake a sodden, sewage-soaked lump of nearly $500,000 in cash in a home safe, the Dickinson man claims.

The 79-year-old longtime local businessman kept his cash buried under the floor of his garage because he didn't trust banks, a federal prosecutor said.
That flood four years ago, however, sent him to Citizens Bank to exchange his "dirty" money for new bills. He stored the fresh cash beginning in March 2007 in a safety deposit box at Citizens Bank, 84 Court St., Binghamton, court documents indicate.
A few months later, in November 2007, Wilcox claims he tried to get into his safety deposit box but the lock had been changed. When someone used a bank key to open it, all that was left was $74,000 in cash.
Now a former Citizens Bank branch manager is on trial in U.S. District Court on a single count of embezzlement. A jury was picked Monday, followed by opening arguments from the prosecution and the defense. Testimony in the case is expected to last four days.
Thomas Cararo, formerly of Dickinson and now a resident of North Carolina, is charged with stealing $410,000 of Wilcox's money from Citizens Bank when he worked there. He has entered a not guilty plea.
A child of the Depression, Wilcox began his business career early by gathering and selling coconuts in Florida as a 10-year-old, Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Walsh said in opening arguments.
Later he ran successful businesses in Binghamton, first an asphalt company -- Wilcox & Son -- and then refurbishing and selling heavy equipment.
Like many of his generation, Wilcox made money but he didn't like to spend it, Walsh said.
Now he's lost his life's savings, the prosecutor said.
"All he ever did was work," Walsh told the jury Monday.
Perhaps, but Wilcox is not naïve when it comes to money, said Lisa Peebles, the federal public defender representing Cararo.
Her contention is Wilcox is making the theft up.
"He's about as dumb as a fox," Peebles said. "When it comes to his money, Mr. Wilcox is no fool."
Peebles said there are no records that show Wilcox walked into Citizens Bank with $484,000 and no record that he rented safety deposit box No. 418.

"Can the government prove (Cararo) had his hands near $410,000?" Peebles asked the jury Monday. "No way."
The prosecution will attempt to show Cararo had money problems, Walsh said. They'll also show that Cararo and family members made thousands in purchases to refurbish two houses in Dickinson in 2006 and 2007.
Still, those purchases don't add up to the $410,000 Cararo is accused of stealing, Peebles countered.
According to Walsh, Wilcox and his daughter, Roxanne, at first tried to clean and dry the cash themselves in 2006. They ended up taking the cash in bundles of $15,000 and $20,000 in November 2006 to the Chenango Bridge branch of Citizens Bank on River Road, where Cararo then worked as branch manager, to exchange it. Later they took it to the bank in Binghamton and put it in the safety deposit box.
At that time, Cararo had been transferred from the Chenango Bridge branch office to the Citizens Bank in downtown Binghamton.
When they first rented safety deposit box 418, Walsh said, Cararo gave keys to Wilcox and his daughter, and kept a third key for himself.
Walsh said the keys given to Wilcox and his daughter didn't match, but Cararo's key matched Wilcox's key.
A federal civil jury in November found Cararo liable for the missing $410,000. Citizens Bank had settled with Wilcox, paying him $150,000 the bank could document using bank records.
The Binghamton office of the FBI began an investigation of Cararo after Wilcox knocked on their office door on Jan. 4, 2008, to report the alleged theft of his money, Walsh said.
Cararo left Citizens Bank in August 2007 to work for Bank of America in North Carolina, Peebles said.

Former New Milford, Connecticutt bank teller accused of embezzlement

The former head teller for the Savings Bank of Danbury in New Milford posted a $15,000 bond in Bantam Superior Court Monday following his arraignment on larceny charges.

William Baldwin Jr., 26, admitted to police that he took $16,500 over a period of a year by taking $20- $100 at a time from his cash drawer, then claiming it was transferred to the bank vault. In May, he tried to cover it up by stealing from three savings accounts to make up the shortfall he feared would be uncovered through an audit. His final desperate effort to avoid detection was his undoing, and brought his actions to the attention of bank officials.
Baldwin, who lives in New Milford, had worked for the bank at Kent Road for eight years, rising to the position of head teller last year.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Former Fresno Area Bank Employee Sentenced for Embezzlement

United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today that United States District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill sentenced Donice Maxine Medina, 53, of Parlier, today to 33 months in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release for theft and embezzlement of bank funds. Medina was also ordered to pay $1,890,801 in restitution to the Bank of the West, her former employer. She pleaded guilty on January 29, 2010.

This case is the product of an extensive investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and was brought to the attention of the FBI by Bank of the West investigators who discovered the embezzlement. Assistant United States Attorney Kirk E. Sherriff prosecuted the case.
According to Medina’s guilty plea, from January 2006 through August 28, 2009, she used her position as a Customer Service Manager of the Bank of the West branch in Parlier to embezzle $1,890,801 of the bank’s funds.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Former Pennsylvania Bank Official Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement and Making False Entries

Dennis C. Pfannenschmidt, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, announced that Glenn J. Clark, age 37, of Scranton, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty in federal court to embezzling approximately $30,000 and making numerous false entries into North Penn Bank's records that resulted in approximately $488,000 in losses to the bank. As a result of the guilty plea, Clark faces up to 60 years' imprisonment, $2 million in fines and full restitution for any losses caused by his conduct. No date has been set for sentencing.

Massachusetts bank exec jailed in embezzlement case

A former executive with Seamen's Bank in Provincetown will spend a year in jail after pleading guilty yesterday to embezzling $179,000, allegedly to help her mother.

A tearful and wan Kathleen Morris, 34, of Truro entered guilty pleas yesterday in Barnstable Superior Court to five charges related to the theft.
The charges included larceny over $250 by a single scheme and embezzlement from a bank. There were also 15 counts each of obtaining credit of $250 or more by false financial statements, forgery of a promissory note endorsement and uttering promissory note falsely endorsed.
The bank embezzlement charge held the stiffest potential penalty, 15 years in state prison.
Morris's full sentence, which mirrored what was sought by Cape and Islands First Assistant District Attorney Michael Trudeau, is 2½ years in a house of correction with one year to be served, five years of probation, continued psychiatric counseling and full restitution to Seamen's Bank.
Her attorney, Steven DeYoung of Hyannis had agreed to the probation and restitution, but wanted Morris to be confined at home rather than go to jail.
Trudeau said the state considered leniency in Morris's sentence because she had no prior criminal record.
Morris, who had worked for the bank for 12 years and was a commercial lending vice-president, created 15 false loan applications from 2007 to 2009 in the names of friends and family members, including her mother Jean Bodman. In her position, she was able to approve loans that were under $50,000 without further bank review. The loan applications were made between 2007 and 2009, and the payouts were deposited into accounts that Morriscontrolled, according to court statements.
The scheme was discovered during a routine bank audit after loan applicants received a letter in the mail asking them to confirm their loan, according to court statements. One person contacted that bank to say there was no loan. After conducting an internal investigation, Seamen's president John Roderick, contacted the state police.
Morris took the money because her mother had been victimized financially by a sibling who suffers from drug dependency, said DeYoung in court. "That started a process that got carried away." .
Just prior to sentencing yesterday, DeYoung tried to paint an image of Morris as an altruist new mother and career banker — "a very atypical criminal" — who suffered from depression, battled a weakened resolve and worried about her family.
Judge Gary Nickerson warned DeYoung, however, against painting too rosy a picture given some of the purchases evident in Morris's financial records.
"There was a Caribbean cruise," Nickerson said. "There are motor vehicles."
Yesterday, Morris signed a note that was handed to a representative of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation at the court house, confirming a "lifetime ban" for work in the financial industry. She may face civil penalties from the federal agency, according to comments made in court.
She was handcuffed at around 2:30 p.m. and led from the courtroom as family members watched, including her husband, Keith.
Keith Morris has obtained a loan against the family's primary residence at 5A Snows Road in Truro to repay Seamen's $154,000, the sum covered by the bank's insurance, according to statements made in court. A refinancing of the loan will raise the final $25,000 that Seamen's had to pay out as a deductible.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Former Tacoma, Washington KeyBank employee sentenced for embezzling

A bank employee from Tacoma was sentenced Wednesday in federal court for embezzling more than $100,000 from several customers. Jeffrey Lynn Giddings Jr., 27, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to a year in prison and six months of home detention and was ordered to pay $112,626 in restitution.
Giddings, who was an operations manager at the Hawks Prairie branch of KeyBank, pleaded guilty to bank embezzlement in December 2009. From October 2007 to February 2009, he took out loans totaling $45,000 in a relative’s name and stole money from the account of another relative. He also withdrew more than $50,000 from the account of an elderly couple.
Giddings’ colleagues eventually became suspicious and reported him.

N.J. Bank Exec Charged with Fraud

A former employee of Pamrapo Savings Bank was arrested on June 2 and charged with diverting and embezzling more than $600,000 from the Bayonne, New Jersey-based bank.

Brian Campbell, former managing director of the bank's investment company, was taken into custody by federal agents and faces a 54-count indictment with charges of mail fraud and money laundering. An initial hearing on the charges was held by U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in the District of New Jersey, Newark Division.
Pamrapo Bank has more than $500 million in assets and 10 offices in New Jersey. The now-defunct Service Corporation was the investment subsidiary of Pamrapo Savings Bank, S.L.A., a savings and loan holding company. The Service Corporation provided securities and investment services including the sale of stocks and bonds, mutual funds, annuities, various types of insurance policies and other money management services, to clients for a fee. It also offered insurance and annuity products.
The Service Corporation was required to conduct or "clear" securities transactions, such as the purchase, sale and transfer of stocks, through a registered broker-dealer. Its other investment services went through a second subsidiary, an accounting company, which was a sister company to the registered broker-dealer. Campbell was designated as a "registered representative" of these two entities and was authorized to conduct securities transactions and other investment services for customers on behalf of the Service Corporation through the two entities.
The commissions and fees Campbell generated through the business were first to go the service corporation. After the company's cut of the fees and commissions were taken, Campbell was paid at rates set by the board of directors.
In August 2006, Campbell's compensation was modified, resulting in a significant pay cut. Then in 2007, the indictment says, Campbell allegedly created a scheme to divert money belonging to the Service Corporation to himself.
The indictment states Campbell began his scheme by sending a letter to the registered broker-dealer, falsely claiming Pamrapo Savings Bank wanted commissions owed to the Service Corporation to be paid directly to Campbell. Campbell allegedly had a second letter signed, directing the registered broker-dealer and the accounting company to pay the vast majority of the fees and commissions owed to the Service Corporation directly to Campbell.
In the same time period, the indictment states, Campbell had various insurance companies issue fees and commissions owed to the Service Corporation directly to him, without the authorization or knowledge of the board of directors. Campbell tried to cover up his crime by making false statements to the Pamrapo Savings Bank, its chief financial officer, the board of directors, the Service Corporation and others.
He allegedly received more than $600,000 in checks from the various entities in this scheme. He is also charged with money laundering, as he allegedly laundered portions of the fraud proceeds to pay his credit card bills.
If convicted, Campbell faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of the mail fraud charges. He faces a maximum prison sentence of 10 years and a $250,000 fine on each of the money laundering charges.
Campbell's arrest and indictment come just two months after the Office of Thrift Supervision assessed a $5 million penalty against the bank for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act.
Investigating the case were officials from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG), the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Cyber Thieves Rob Treasury Credit Union in Utah

Organized cyber thieves stole more than $100,000 from a small credit union in Salt Lake City last week, in a brazen online robbery that involved dozens of co-conspirators.

In most of the e-banking robberies I’ve written about to date, the victims have been small to mid-sized businesses that had their online bank accounts cleaned out after cyber thieves compromised the organization’s computers. This incident is notable because the entity that was both compromised and robbed was a bank.
The attack began Thursday, May 20, when the unidentified perpetrators started transferring funds out of an internal account at Treasury Credit Union, a financial institution that primarily serves employees of the U.S. Treasury Department in the state of Utah and their families. Treasury Credit Union President Steve Melgar said the thieves made at least 70 transfers before the fraud was stopped.
Melgar declined to say how much money was stolen, stating only that the total amount was likely to be in the “low six-figures.”
“We’re still trying to find out what net [loss] is, because some of the money came back or for whatever reason the transfers were rejected by the recipient bank,” Melgar said, adding that the FBI also is currently investigating the case. A spokeswoman for the Salt Lake City field office of the FBI declined to comment, saying the agency does not confirm or deny investigations.
Many of the transfers were in the sub-$5,000 range and went to so-called “money mules,” willing or unwitting individuals recruited over the Internet through work-at-home job schemes. Melgar said other, larger, transfers appear to have been sent to commercial bank accounts tied to various small businesses.
Melgar said some of the money mules apparently had a change of heart, but only after they’d withdrawn the stolen cash from their bank accounts and wired the money overseas to Ukraine as instructed.
“Some of the money mules went back to their banks after they’d Western Unioned the money, went back and talk to their branch manager or whoever and say they felt they may have committed fraud,” he said. “I guess something must have clicked in their head at that point.”
Melgar said it wasn’t clear whether any of the mules who reported the fraud to their banks had returned the “commissions” they make for helping thieves launder the money. In previous attacks I have written about, the mules were permitted to keep roughly 8 percent of the transfer amount, with any wire fees to be taken out of the commission. Earlier this month, the FBI said it is planning a law enforcement action against money mules in a bid to raise public awareness about the damage from these types of work-at-home employment schemes.
According to Melgar, the perpetrators who set up the bogus transactions had previously stolen a bank employee’s online login credentials after infecting the employee’s Microsoft Windows computer with a Trojan horse program. Melgar said investigators have not yet determined which particular strain of malware had infected the PC, adding that the bank’s installation of Symantec’s Norton Antivirus failed to detect the infection prior to the unauthorized transfers.
“That’s all part of our investigation, and we’re going to try to see how it was that this PC got infected,” Melgar said. “The truth is if you invite malicious software in, there’s probably not a lot at that point that’s going to stop it.”