Bank Midwest Let Someone Pilfer Our Safe Deposit Box For $92,000

Ken and Nina say that that $92,000 was stolen from their safe deposit box after Bank Midwest allowed someone else to access it.

They’ve filed a police report and written the bank’s president. The bank manager won’t release any information unless required to by subpoena. Ken and Nina are interested in hiring a lawyer, but of course, they can be expensive. They want to know what else they can do.

Do you have homeowner’s insurance? It may cover the contents of the box. Contact your insurance company and find out. In cases like these, it’s often best to have your monster (your insurance company) fight theirs. Also, another of our readers had something very similar happen to his family. Read the comments on Bank Of America Let Conwoman Steal My Dead Aunt’s Identity And Rob Her Safe Deposit Box for more ideas about how to press your issue further.

Ken and Nina’s tale, inside…

We, Ken and Nina N.have a safety deposit box at Bank Midwest location at 13270 Metcalf, Overland Park, Kansas.

On April 11 of 2007, we went to our box to take out money to pay for our business tax owe, we were stunned to find out that our money and diamond ring weren’t in there. It was $75000 in cash and a ring worth for $17000. We ask each other and traced back to see if one of us would use it, but none have touched the money or the ring since August 2006. I tried to locate the second key, but couldn’t find it.

We were disbelieved and confused, so we went back to the bank to check the signature card. We were shock when we discover that there was a signature which wasn’t our on the card. It was on September 2, 2006. We immediately pointed out to the manager of the bank. He asked us we have visited a few times after September date and did not notice anything? We told him that we did not check because the money and the ring were in a carton box and outside was many important paper documents. Besides, who would think that anyone could get in and have access to this box other than us; unless, the bank didn’t check identity of a person to access a highly secure place in the bank.

We request the Bank for the video on that particular date but they refuse to let us see neither the video nor the copy of the signature card. The Bank manager told us that we have to have an attorney request otherwise they won’t be able to help us anything because of bank policy. We tried to talk and reason to the manager but he said that he has nothing to do with it and suggests us to talk to the bank lawyer.

We tried to contact the president of Bank Midwest, but he didn’t respond. Finally, we hired an attorney to represent for us. The Bank attorney said they did not have the video and they kept it only one week for analog and six months for digital.

As a customer, we feel that Bank Midwest didn’t put any effort to help us and protect our identity, property and customer right. We didn’t know where to turn for help. We have tried looking for an attorney, but they are expensive. We also reported to the Overland Park Police on 4/26/07, but haven’t heard from them.

Please help and advise us what to do. Thank you so much.

Sincerely,
Ken and Nina N.

Very sorry to hear about your loss. That’s got to be incredibly maddening and painful. Beyond fixing the problem, we wonder how it ever happened in the first place? Don’t they call them “safe” deposit boxes for a reason? — BEN POPKEN

RELATED: Bank Of America Let Conwoman Steal My Dead Aunt’s Identity And Rob Her Safe Deposit Box

Comments

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  1. tvh2k says:

    No offense but why did you have $75k in cash in a safe deposit box?? Sounds a bit shady to me.

    You know banks will hold that money for you for free–and even pay you for the privilege of holding onto it.

  2. Landru says:

    Maybe it is just me, but what is the deal with hiding cash in a safety deposit box? Hidden from creditors? If I trusted the bank enough to hide $92k on its premises, then it’s about the same as trusting it to hold my money in an account.

  3. rugger_can says:

    because you’ve accessed the bank account after the alleged crime took place your going to find it very difficult to convince an insurance company of the theft.

    Best bet is to hire a lawyer and get the infomation you need from the bank. even then your still no better off as there’s no promise that would even net you any useful information.

    The whole series of circumstances is very improbable. if you cannot afford a lawyer yet you keep 75k in a safe deposit box your going to find convincing anyone it actually was there in the first place an uphill battle.

    Im not saying it did not happen excatly like you said. Just that its going to be near impossible to prove.

    As well, keeping large sums of money “off the grid” only to have it stolen is a good way to find yourselves under investigation. Like it was said before why would you not deposit that kind of money in the bank where it was federally protected unless you where trying to avoid taxes or creditors.

    Good luck, your going to need it.

  4. mattloaf1 says:

    The Consumerist seems to be slandering Bank Midwest, a specific branch even, based on the story of one person. This tale has enough question marks and holes in it that you have an obligation to seek further evidence as to the veracity of their claim before you post it.

  5. humphrmi says:

    @Landru: If you put money into a safe deposit box in order to hide the money from the IRS, it is illegal. That may sounds silly, but in effect what it means is that in that case, you have committed two crimes – one, hiding money from the IRS, and two, using a safe deposit box to do it. In general it is a bad idea to put bearer instruments (like, cash) into a safety deposit box. They are not designed / intended to be used for that purpose.

    I know that doesn’t help out this couple in this case, but it may explain why they aren’t getting a lot of help from the bank or authorities on this matter.

  6. iMike says:

    It’s kind of like economic Darwinism: act shady, or stupidly, and lose all your dough.

  7. cde says:

    @Everyone: They went to take out the money to pay their business tax.

  8. Ben Popken says:

    @mattloaf1: Accusing someone of committing slander when they haven’t is itself slanderous. You saved your self by using the word “seems,” just like we used the word “say.”

  9. acambras says:

    Yeah, I have to agree with the above commenters that keeping large amounts of cash in a safe deposit box seems shady, like they’re trying to hide it from the government or creditors.

    So maybe reporting the theft to the authorities is like filing a police report after your crack pipe gets stolen.

    I would imagine homeowner’s insurance would cover the ring (if there was a rider for extra valuables not covered by the main policy), but I would bet that there’s a clause limiting the amount of cash (if any) that they would cover.

  10. Ben Popken says:

    It’s not illegal to put money in a safe deposit box. Let’s not assume the worst.

  11. cadpilot says:

    Sounds like just a lot of jealousy that these people worked to save this amount of money, so you don’t have any problem with it being stolen from them. I guess that’s the way this country is going. Work hard to have some good savings, get it stolen from you and given to those who spend like there’s no tomorrow.

    Moral of the story, the harder you work for your money, the harder other people will work to take it away from you.

  12. pdxguy says:

    @humprhmi: hiding money from the IRS is not illegal, the avoidance of tax is. See the following famous quote:

    “Anyone may arrange his affairs so that his taxes shall be as low as
    possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which best pays the
    treasury. There is not even a patriotic duty to increase one’s taxes.
    Over and over again the Courts have said that there is nothing sinister
    in so arranging affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everyone
    does it, rich and poor alike and all do right, for nobody owes any
    public duty to pay more than the law demands.”

    Quote by:

    Judge Learned Hand
    (1872-1961), Judge, U. S. Court of Appeals

    Source: in the case of Helvering v. Gregory, 69F.2d 809

  13. crayonshinobi says:

    As dubious as the story sounds, there is one interesting bit of information, that seems to have been overlooked by previous posters; “there was a signature which wasn’t our on the card”

    That alone warrants investigation, and even if Ken and Nina can’t prove what was stolen, surely the bank could be liable for such a breach in security if it indeed occurred. Shouldn’t there be video records to match up with the date of the signature?

    I hope we can hear the conclusion, it’s interesting.

  14. RandomHookup says:

    @Ben Popken:

    Actually that would be libelous since it is in print. Slander is considered a harmful statement in a transitory form, especially speech (or at least that’s what Wikipedia says).

    And I too am “disbelieved.”

  15. nala714 says:

    Having worked in the banking industry for 6+ years I have some advise as I have worked in various back office. The last position was to support the VP of Branch Administration, writing policies and Compliance. I even wrote our Safe Deposit Box policy for a community bank.

    First I will tell you that in the lingo of most fine print (look to the SDB agreement signed or disclosure packet), Cash is mentioned not to be deposited in a Safe Deposit Box (SDB), and not covered by the bank. Banks include this lingo to protect themselves from “missing cash” claims.
    Second I will tell you that in any instance that you can prove that someone other than a signer to the account accessed your SDB you have the opportunity for a “blank check” issued to you by the bank who is at fault. The bank is responsible for verifying each signature that accesses SDB.

    Third I will tell you that the bank is quivering in the back office that you will involve an attorney. I have seen it before. I would recommend you take it to court, they will probably settle before it gets that far. At minimum you should be able to be reimbursed for the ring, but include the total amount just in case.

    Ever wonder why new banks that are opened have few to no SDB’s anymore, it is a paperwork nightmare that banks don’t want to fight any longer. Good Luck.

  16. uberbitter says:

    There are still people alive from a generation that did not trust banks to go under and would rather keep the money in a box that (supposedly) only they would have the ability to access. In theory, it should be safer than stuck under a flammible mattress. Note that just last week there was a bit linked containing myriad of ways to hide cash.

    There is also the fact that they claim a valuable ring is missing. Since they didn’t take pictures of it going into the box, does that mean they’re lying about that too?

    While socking away a large amount of cash or couldbe shady or could be a complete fabrication, there is simply no evidence right now that they are trying to defraud the bank. And the bank’s unwillingness to help – it doesn’t make the situation shady, it just means the bank doesn’t want to admit to granting the wrong person access to the box.

  17. Ben Popken says:

    @RandomHookup: Since blogs can be edited, I think they qualify as transitory.

  18. cgmaetc says:

    Why they had that money in the box is their business. How an unauthorized person got access to the box is the banks business.

    I say go to court. Bottom line, the bank screwed up .

  19. rugger_can says:

    @Ben Popken:

    Ignore it, nothing you said in this artical is slander. In every instance you referred to the actual party making the claims.

    The title is “Bank Midwest Let Someone Pilfer Our Safe Deposit Box For $92,000″ indicating that the person referencing this act is the people making the claim (unless you share a box with them).

    Knock off the slander crap people its unproductive and useless, unless your a lawyer working on behest of the “slandered party” all your doing is sounding like an idiot.

    (Ben not withstanding as you where making a point)

    Perhaps we should stay on topic :)

  20. mph says:

    I’m sorry, but I have to say – if you are so fearful of leaving money in a bank account that you’d give up about $3000/yr in interest, I would be a LOT more careful about checking to make sure I had both keys, and actually looking in the cash box once in a while when I opened the box for my “important papers”.

    In addition, they apparently visited the safe deposit box several times beforehand; did they not notice the different signature on the line above theirs?

    Bottom line: I call shenanigans.

  21. mattloaf1 says:

    @Ben Popken

    When I say “slanderous,” I mean in a general sense of disparaging someone or something. Not in a “I am a law snob and this is the statutory definition of what you are doing” sense of the word.

    You obviously have a lot of hard decisions to make when you select stories to publish, especially when they are based solely on a person’s account of a bad experience with a company. Certain claims are less weighty than others; this one is clearly a very weighty accusation, which you don’t seem to have approached with as much skepticism as you should have.

    I think it’s clear that your readership agrees with me in saying that there are enough questions surrounding this story that it shouldn’t have been published without further evidence to support their claim.

  22. MeOhMy says:

    @mattloaf1: This is one of the things to love and hate about “blogs.” You’re held to a different level of journalistic integrity. On the one hand they can “break” stories fastor than newspapers, but on the other hand there is always a chance that a story is half-baked because the vetting is not nearly as stringent.

    You have to take the good with the bad and take everything – blog or news outlet – with a healthy dose of skepticism.

  23. Ben Popken says:

    @mattloaf1: Whether or not the story is even true, it merits publishing so people can learn from the situation.

    I wasn’t aware there was a “connotative” definition for slander. Perhaps to avoid confusion in the future you should say, “slandertastic.”

    Anyone wishing to talk more about slander can do so in a new thread I opened up here on the message board. Otherwise, let’s talk about banks and safe deposit boxes!

  24. lincolnparadox says:


    The question I have is the larger crime here, how did “whomever” get the second key and find out how much money you had in the box? You might want to ask yourself who had access to your home/office since the last time you saw that key.

    The good news is, the law is on your side. The bank is obviously giving you the runaround. You already filed a police report, now bring a lawyer in.

    Yes, it’s money spent, but if you want to see your case go forward at the police station, you need a lawyer. If you want the bank to cooperate, you need a lawyer. If you want to see some kind of monetary compensation, either from the bank or via a crime victim compensation program, you will need a lawyer.

    Lawyers ARE skeevy monsters who want a cut of your money (10-50%, always remember to negotiate for no more than 15% of the funds returned and get that plain writing). However, lawyers are also well-trained tour-guides to the legal system. Unless you have a JD, or a lot of clout, shell out some dough and sic an attack lawyer on the bank. You’ll get much more satisfaction from your situation.

  25. etinterrapax says:

    It seems to me that whether these people are truthful or have a case is not for us to decide. They need an attorney; they can go through the state bar association and be referred, and possibly their attorney will take the case on a contingency basis (i.e. his or her fee is a portion of the settlement), if that is permitted in their state for this kind of case. They seem from the email to be ELL, so they may want to bring a more fluent family member or trusted representative with them to be sure they understand the terms of their agreement with the attorney re: payment, but they have everything to gain by pursuing this.

    I’m not sure why we’re letting ourselves be diverted with the issue of slander. This seems no different from any other consumer complaint posted on the site. I hope they’re able to reach a resolution quickly, before it affects their business.

  26. shdwsclan says:

    Sue them through the nose…..ill bet if you win, it will be over a million since they lost the video…

  27. rugger_can says:

    @shdwsclan:

    I missed that part. They lost the video?

  28. jaredharley says:

    @mph: Second on the shenanigans!

  29. Hackoff says:

    Deja vu!

  30. Hackoff says:

    @mattloaf1: You are wrong and you certainly don’t represent my opinion. This is a blog for consumers! We want to hear about these things.

    Who are you protecting by bringing up the issue of slander? What purpose does it serve? If any story is bogus, it will eventually come out. Why do you feel the need to throw sand?

    You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but you certainly have made yourself look silly.

  31. faust1200 says:

    Let me fix this headline (whistling merrily) “Bank Midwest safety deposit boxes run by retards.”

  32. Hackoff says:
  33. Joeyjojo says:

    It appears that there’s quite a bit of suspicion regarding the story being told. Admittedly, there’s plenty to be suspicious about. That’s a lot of cash to stick in a cardbard box in a safe deposit box.

    That said, that’s completely NOT the issue here. They could have been story a Pez dispenser. The point is that someone NOT them was granted access to the box. And it’s documented.

    And what kind of bank doesn’t keep security tape to their safe deposit boxes for more than a week? Seems like a good question to ask any bank before paying for a deposit box.

  34. humphrmi says:

    A few pieces of advice before you run to a lawyer (and I’m not saying you shouldn’t):

    1. If you signed an agreement when you opened the SDB, find it. Read it, of course,but take it to your lawyer. It is entirely possible that your bank put in verbiage that this sort of situation is not their responsibility. It is also entirely possible that such verbiage is either wrongly worded, or not applicable in your state, or … who knows what. My point is, forwarned is forearmed, have all the knowlege of the situation up front.

    2. As far as affording a lawyer, if you truly cannot afford it, see if the $92,000 prize tag could help you get a lawyer on contingency. Shop around specifically for an attorney who will file your claim and take your case on contingency. Seems like a 33% contingency on that kind of cabbage would be worth some attorney’s time, especially given that PI lawyers take the same rake for much smaller cases.

    3. Or, alternately, try filing your own claim (Pro-Se). The bank, if they’re smart, will immediately demand a Jury trial and you’ll be screwed because you don’t know how to write legal Jury instructions. But they won’t want to take a chance that a ProSe judge will have pity on you and give some boilerplate instructions to the jury, so maybe they’ll try to settle.

  35. mknoll says:

    From a google search: “Federal deposit insurance protects the first $100,000 of deposits that are payable in the United States.” Assuming this couple owed taxes of 75,000 they more than likely had in excess of the $100,000 that is insured in their account. Therefore the money when deposited in the bank would theoretically be subject to loss if the bank failed. When looked at in this light the SDB should have been more secure since when a bank fails the contents of the SDB are returned whereas the money over 100,000 may not be.

  36. @Ben Popken: I’ll reiterate what I said the last time we had a story about cash in a safe deposit box: It’s one of the less bizarre places I’ve seen people keep cash. (As an estate lawyer.)

    I personally can’t really imagine why you’d do that, especially with very, very large sums, but a) what constitutes “too much money to keep in cash format” varies a great deal from person to person and b) some people don’t trust accounts because they’re “just numbers” — often they had a bank error in the past that screwed them and so now insist on actual bills.

    It’s more common among Depression-era people who are nervous about banks or value of intangible money to begin with, but lots of people do it.

  37. PS — blogs are still under libel, not slander, despite being “transitory.” (And this still wasn’t either.)

  38. nala714 says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: Your comment about older individuals is correct, they do not trust the bank to hold liquid large sums of cash.

    Also I wanted to make mention that there are individuals that regularly make deposits/withdrawals of large cash and they come strait from/to their SDB. Sometimes they think if they do not walk out the door with the cash they are exempt from Currency Transaction Reporting (CTR’s) which is incorrect. The CTR avoidance is the IRS device used to track money launderers, tax evaders and the like.

    I have heard all kinds of stories of the things people stash in SDB’s, drugs, money, weapons etc. and in some cases those are the boxes ceased by law enforcement.

    Of course since I managed a CTR team for a national bank I could tell you a better way of evading reporting, but then I would have to kill you and that just might ruin your day.

  39. nala714 says:

    J/K about that last part. :)

  40. unamericanvalues says:

    In German they would say “Dom Kof” or in America we just call it plain old stupid. How on earth could they possibly get the law to be on their side, if they already had gone into the box several times before reporting the theft. And finally how the hell does a bank misplace a security video, I thought under the national record compliance act of 2004 stated security videos needed to be kept for a minimum of one year (or I could be mistaken.) They might be able to get comped for the ring but i highly doubt they could get a penny replaced out of the cash, and besides why wouldn’t you put your money in a bank account. “you know they pay you something called “interest” to do that, and the government insures the banks that way if the bank caves you still wind up with your cash”.

    I think I already said this, but how stupid could you get (keeping 75k in a safe deposit box.)

  41. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    @lincolnparadox:
    I too am baffled by how the thief got the key to the box.
    Usually there are only two keys to any box & if you lose both of them, the bank has to drill out the lock & charges you for that job.
    Plus the number on the keys usually isn’t the number of the box. The bank uses a numerical difference of some sort for that.
    So it comes down to one of these scenarios:
    1. A bank employee somehow got the key & used it.
    2. Someone got the key, knew the box number & forged the name. That person would have had to also have an ID with the same name as the banks where I’ve had a box recently have required that. I don’t know if this bank was doing that.
    3. One of this couple is lying & stole the money.
    4. Both of them are lying & trying to scam the bank.

    I personally think that #3 is the most likely. One of them probably has a boyfriend/girlfriend on the side.

  42. joeyversion2 says:

    Since my original login doesn’t seem to be working anymore (some “authorization failed” error when I try to submit a comment, even though i’m logged in), I’ll try with a different name:

    @humphrmi: Good advice on the legal strategy. Additionaly, if the couple has a health insurance policy provided through their employer, they should look into any additional employee assistance program benefits – many include services like “8 hours of free legal counsel” or deferrment of legal fees.

  43. AndyFromTucson says:

    Here is an old war story that popped into my mind when I read “there was a signature that wasn’t ours on the card.”

    Back when I was working as in attorney I got a call from a woman who said that someone had been writing checks on her account and the bank and police wouldn’t help her. I asked her to come in and bring all the relevant documents. When she got there she showed me the canceled checks she claimed weren’t written by her. To me, the “forged” signatures looked the same as the real ones. I noticed that the “forged” checks were interspersed at random throughout the range of check numbers, which I thought was odd. I asked to see her check register, and she showed me her handwritten register of checks she kept, and all the “forged” checks were neatly written in the register in her handwriting. When asked, she said that the forger must be somehow getting her checkbook and register, forging checks and entries in the register, and then putting it back. Now I knew why the bank and the police weren’t helping her! She was very sincere through this entire exchange, and I believed she believed what she was saying.

    To me the moral of this story is that its perfectly possible for some people to get seriously confused about important facts in their personal life, like where they put that $75K in cash, and whether they signed a signature card on some date back in September. I think its perfectly possible that the people in this case have a number of places they hide stuff and they just lost track of where they had squirreled away their cash stash.

  44. j-o-h-n says:

    @Joeyjojo:

    *Possibly* someone NOT them was granted access to the box. And it’s documented.

    The last time I got into our box, the bank clerk messed up and handed me the signature card for the person who had just gone in before me and I didn’t notice until I had already signed that it wasn’t ours. So now this woman has a card with my signature (crossed-out, but still there) on it.

  45. logicnazi says:

    Iknow this discussion died a long time ago but I couldn’t let this go without correcting some misconceptions in case someone else stumbles across this via google.

    1) Yes, it is illegal to put money in a safe deposit box for the purpose of hiding your money from the IRS. The quote from Judge Hand was observing that there is nothing illegal about arranging your affairs so that you are taxed the least, e.g., using trusts instead of inheritances so you can use the gift tax rates instead of inheritance tax rates. This in no way authorizes you to LIE about your finances so you can break the tax law. Lying to the IRS to avoid taxation is tax fraud and always a crime.

    2) Yes there is a FDIC insurance limit of 100k (maybe more for married couples) but this is a per account limit (at worst per bank). You can still go ahead and open up other accounts to protect your money. Ultimately though this is kinda silly. All FDIC insurance does it provide a guarantee from the government that you will be paid. Why not just buy government bonds instead?

    3) As far as hiding the money a la depression survivors this is just an explanation for why you were dumb not an excuse. Even if you want to just be crazy risk averse this isnt’ a particularly safe way to do it. If we ever had another depression it is possible, even probable that the government would respond by printing more money and causing inflation (probably should have done in the real thing). A much safer alternative would be to invest in a precious metal and get an insurance plan.

    As far as why they have this crazy cash in the bank there are all sorts of explanations but most are pretty shaddy. I mean maybe the guy was D.B. Cooper :-).

    On the less shaddy end of the scale is that they have a need to pay protection money, fear kidnapping/ranson, or need to bribe corrupt foreign officials and don’t wish to run afoul of US cash reporting laws above 10k. I’d also put drug money as a not too shady reason so long as it was acquired without violence. It’s also possible that the money was left to them by a criminal relative (or they found it in their stuff). As loyal family members they might not want to involve the police but not be willing to toss it. More sinister explanations would include hush money, paid hits, embezzlement etc..

    However, the fact they contacted the police makes this highly sketchy. If they had a real reason to keep this money in their they likely don’t want the police to know about it (but dumber shit has happened). Also if you were keeping 70k in your safe deposit box wouldn’t you at least look at it when you open up the box?

    The simplest theory is usually right and in this case it’s that they never had these things in the box in the first place. Someone at the bank was a bit sloppy and either didn’t watch them one time when they signed in and they faked someone else’s signature or there was just a slip up and someone signed the wrong sheet one day. Realizing the opportunity this couple waits till the tapes are erased and then tries to collect.

    In fact an even better explanation involves a collaboration with a bank employee. Their friend at the bank helps them insert the non-existant signature and tells them when the tapes will be gone and they agree to split any legal settlement.