Bank robbers don’t always carry guns and wear masks. Sometimes, we willingly hand over our money to them, falsely believing that they are people we can trust. Yes, we’re talking about bank employees.
They often deal with tens of thousands of dollars each day, and it is difficult for some to resist stealing a few grand. It is surprisingly easy—and common—for an employee to siphon money from the bank’s customers.
These thieves often target the elderly and the disabled, and they can steal money for years undetected. If you have money in a bank, you need to read this. Seriously.
10 Michelle Renee Crouch
When bank teller Michelle Crouch learned that Kevin J. Bolema had died, she decided to drain his savings account. She took over $100,000 and left just $5. A couple days later, Crouch attended Bolema’s funeral, introduced herself to his family, and hugged his grieving mother.
Bolema’s family soon received a call from the bank alerting them that someone had tried to use Bolema’s credit card. His daughter went to the bank the next day to ask that his savings account be frozen. However, the account had already been drained. Bolema’s family was thrown into “complete panic” when they realized that his account was empty.
The bank fired Crouch and launched an investigation. Crouch claimed that Bolema had been a friend of hers and that he had given her an interest-free loan before he died. She created a loan document and forged his name on it.
Police did not believe her story, and Crouch was arrested. After she was freed on bail, she went to work at a credit union. Crouch stole more than $10,000 from a customer there. She was only caught after her employers read an article about her earlier theft.
Crouch was sentenced to 20 months in prison.
9 Alex Cunningham
Alex Cunningham met Doris Galloway after she transferred her life savings to the bank where he worked. She regularly went to the bank, and the two became friendly. After Galloway fell and broke her hip, she was unable to visit the bank so Cunningham visited her at home and ran errands for her. Galloway grew so fond of Cunningham that she intended to leave money to him in her will.
Cunningham did not want to wait for a windfall, and he began siphoning money from Galloway’s account. He used the money on an Internet gambling site where he bet on sporting events and daily movements of the financial markets.
Cunningham took control of Galloway’s finances. He opened and closed bank accounts without her knowledge, and he had loans totaling around £40,000 credited to her account. Cunningham managed to steal £271,885 from her account before a large unauthorized transfer alarmed bank officials. They began an internal investigation and caught Cunningham.
He was jailed for three-and-a-half years.
8 Simon Wong Sai-man
Simon Wong Sai-man was employed in customer services at a bank for three years. When he left, he took HK$860,000 from a depositor’s account by forging the holder’s signature. When Wong was caught, he explained that he had lost money on the stock market and needed to repay a student loan. He was jailed for two years.
Six months after his release, he went to work at another bank. Wong soon developed a serious gambling problem, and he could not pay his debts. He began stealing money from a businessman’s account. Wong replaced the stolen money with his winnings, but he did not make enough to replace the pilfered amount.
Wong searched for another account to steal from and found an account of a woman who had been bedridden for 20 years. The woman did not receive monthly statements, and Wong believed that she would not notice missing money. He started transferring money between the woman’s account and the businessman’s.
Wong decided he wanted extra cash and made a copy of the woman’s bank book. He brought the copy to another bank branch and attempted to withdraw money. The teller noticed that his information was different from the copy in the bank’s records and alerted a supervisor.
Wong was arrested. Officials discovered that he had stolen HK$2.21 million in three months. He was jailed for two years and eight months.
7 Daniel Andrew Welsh
Daniel Welsh worked as a customer service associate at a bank, and he got to know the bank’s customers personally as they came in. Welsh noted the customers that really needed help—people who could not drive or were disabled—and he would become extremely friendly. He offered them assistance, and sometimes, he bought them groceries.
Welsh gained the friendship of these customers, and he used their trust as a way to manipulate their bank accounts. He pulled money out of each account in one large withdrawal with a cashier’s check. None of his victims realized that he was stealing from them.
He spent five months stealing from elderly customers before the bank’s investigators realized that the funds were missing. They questioned Welsh, but he denied any responsibility. The bank fired him and alerted the police. They discovered that Welsh had at least two victims and he had stolen over $180,000.
He was arrested and charged with two felony counts of theft from an elder adult.
6 Phelon Davis
Phelon Davis was working as a teller when a longtime bank customer tried to deposit thousands of dollars from a garbage bag into his account. However, the accounts had gone dormant from inactivity and the customer lacked identification.
Davis told the customer, a homeless street vendor, where to get ID documents and a Social Security card. While Davis was reviewing the customer’s accounts, he noticed that the man had a surprisingly large balance with the bank.
After Davis received the customer’s information, he decided to open a new account in the customer’s name. He forged the vendor’s signature, set up an ATM card, and linked the account to his email address.
Over several months, Davis transferred the vendor’s money to the new account. He used ATMs 144 times and withdrew a total of $185,440. He used the money to pay for a lavish lifestyle, including multiple vacations, a down payment on a home, and the elimination of personal debt.
After two years, Davis was caught. He pleaded guilty and agreed to pay back the stolen money.
5 Lisa Jarvis
Bank teller Lisa Jarvis saw dollar signs when Kenneth Costello walked into her bank. Costello opened an account and deposited a tax refund check worth several hundred thousand dollars. Jarvis made Costello a debit card, and then she made a copy for herself.
Over the next two years, Jarvis treated Costello’s bank account as her own. She used his debit card copy for more than 100 purchases and spent $98,445. Costello noticed that the balance in his account was declining, and he complained to the bank about the unauthorized withdrawals. The bank realized that Jarvis had stolen the money. As a result, she was fired, arrested, and sentenced to three years in prison.
In an interesting twist, Costello did not get his money back. Police realized that his money had been received through tax fraud. Costello had filed four fraudulent tax returns in one year, which had netted him $545,384. He was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison.
4 Jo Ann Nickell
Jo Ann Nickell started stealing from her customers nine months after she began working at a bank. She targeted seven people, who ranged in age from 65 to 91. Many of them were suffering from illnesses such as cancer and dementia.
She learned that the wife of one of her victims had died, and he was going into a nursing home later that week. Nickell stole from his account the next day. Another customer, who was dying of cancer, invested in two certificates of deposit for $100,000 to leave for his children. Nickell stole one of them worth $46,445.
Nickell told another customer that she was paying him “special savings interest” and she needed to keep his monthly statements so that no one else would know how much money he had. She did not give him a special rate. Instead, she stole $25,100 from his account.
Nickell managed to continue her thefts for three years. She was finally caught when a customer noticed that $8,000 had been withdrawn from her savings account. Nickell had attempted to change the customer’s account so that the monthly bank statements went to the bank. But she did not do it correctly.
The bank investigated the thefts and realized that they had lost $130,268 from Nickell’s actions. The bank reimbursed all the funds that Nickell had stolen and called the police. After pleading guilty, she was sentenced to 18 months in prison. She also had to repay the bank and its insurance company.
3 Irene Quansah
Bank teller Irene Quansah wanted easy money. At least 100 times, she took money from cash deposits made by a restaurant at an ATM. Quansah stole a total of $35,696.29.
She also stole from her customers’ accounts. She withdrew a total of $11,550 from a woman’s account, claiming that the withdrawals were done at the customer’s request. Then Quansah attempted to steal $10,000 from another account. However, the customer complained about the unauthorized withdrawal, and Quansah replaced the money with funds from her teller vault.
The daughter of an elderly woman brought savings bonds to Quansah to redeem and deposit the proceeds into her mother’s accounts. Quansah only deposited a portion of the money, stealing at least $9,975.48. Another bank customer asked Quansah to redeem savings bonds valued at $25,179.48. Quansah only deposited $13,342.92 and kept the rest.
Quansah stole $65,850 from the account of an elderly couple by falsely claiming that the withdrawals were requested by the couple. The man complained to bank officials about the loss, and Quansah took money from her teller vault to repay the couple.
Bank officials became suspicious of Quansah, and they performed a surprise cash audit of her cash drawer and teller vault. She was short $87,900 and admitted to taking the money.
Quansah was sentenced to two years in prison and had to pay restitution of $144,908.33 to the bank. She also had to pay $30,000 to the IRS as she did not report any of the embezzled funds on her tax returns.
2 Linda Sue Newcomb
Linda Sue Newcomb caught coworker Teresa Humphries stealing from their credit union. Humphries had been taking out small loans in members’ names without their knowledge or authorization. She fell behind on payments and was discovered.
Instead of reporting Humphries, Newcomb decided to help her perfect her scheme. As the credit union’s manager, Newcomb was able to take out larger loans. The pair forged the members’ names on the loan documents, and they either pocketed the money or used it to pay off other bank loans. Roughly 90 percent of the bank loans were fraudulent.
They also transferred funds and wrote checks on some credit union members’ accounts. They hid their fraud by altering or withholding the member statements from delivery.
Newcomb spent 14 years stealing from the credit union and its members. She stole around three to four thousand dollars a month. Newcomb and Humphries’s actions cost the credit union more than $12 million, and it went out of business. The National Credit Union Association reimbursed its members.
The pair’s scheme was discovered during an audit. Humphries was sentenced to three years in prison. Newcomb was sentenced to 10 years in jail and ordered to pay almost $12 million in restitution.
1 Kaycee Henzon
Kaycee Henzon had only worked as a bank teller for three months and had managed to steal more than A$10,000 from her customers. Henzon wanted more. She befriended 72-year-old Nancy Brayshaw and stole A$100,000 from her account.
The next day, Henzon went to Brayshaw’s home. The pair got into an argument, which turned into a struggle. Henzon smothered Brayshaw to death. Then Henzon left Brayshaw’s home and went to the police department.
Henzon told police that she had visited Brayshaw at her home to collect clothing to donate to charity. While she was there, two men had rushed into the house and attacked the two women. Henzon’s story quickly fell apart.
She was arrested and pleaded guilty to murder. The judge acknowledged that the murder had been spontaneous and that she had not intended to kill Brayshaw. However, he was bothered that she had shown no remorse for the murder. Henzon was sentenced to almost 20 years in prison.