WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Prosecutors Tuesday said hundreds of customers at White Plains bank are victims of theft – and the thieves are tellers who allegedly took their money.
As CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported, bank robbers usually walk in the front door and announce a stick-up, or hand the teller a threatening note. But this time, prosecutors said it was the tellers themselves who were up to no good.
Customers were stunned to find that their personal information might not be safe – even with bank tellers.
“It’s crazy. It’s insane,” said Bonnie Vulaj of Yorktown. “I mean, how could someone do that?”
“I don’t feel safe not knowing that this was going on, no, I don’t,” said Dawn Marie Rabelye of White Plains.
Westchester County prosecutors alleged that that a ring of five people stole some $850,000 from hundreds of customers in what was the ultimate inside job.
Those charged included alleged ringleader Tyrone Lee, 28, of the Bronx; and alleged co-conspirator bank tellers Nadia Figueroa, 23, and Kalika Arline, 29 – also both of the Bronx – and Venise Cole, 27, of Florida.
A fifth suspect – Anthony Davis, 29, of the Bronx – allegedly ran a fake ID operation for the ring.
They said bank tellers took customers’ sensitive information like Social Security and account numbers, and gave them to others in the ring — who would then make fake IDs including drivers licenses and checks.
Authorities said the others in the ring would take the fake IDs, go back to the same branches, and
withdraw money from the accounts.
“I fortunately haven’t been impacted by it, but I know people who have,” another resident said, “and it creates a lot of problems, and today with Internet and everything else, it is, you know, risky.”
Prosecutors said the Banks targeted included Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, TD Bank and Wachovia.
In New York, three affected branches were in the Bronx, two were in White Plains, one was in Yonkers, and one was in Newburgh.
“I mean, to get a job as a dishwasher, you have to get checked out thoroughly – never mind a bank teller handling other people’s private information,” said Nancy O’Sullivan of White Plains. “I just, I’m stunned at that.”
In a statement, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said, “Identity theft is a complex and growing problem and we must redouble our efforts to ensure that all of us, from large corporations to small businesses and families, are better protected.”
Authorities said the scheme went on for at least four years, and used wiretaps to bust up the ring. Now, many bank customers said they are worried about how to keep their money safe.
“I’m probably going to have to put it under my mattress like back in the days,” said Melroy Scott of White Plains.
Banks were also hit on Long Island, and in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
The Attorney General’s office said the banks have been alerted and are believed to have reimbursed the customers for their losses. But the office said those with questions should call their banks, and advised people to keep very careful track of their bank statements.
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