Bank Of America Sues ID Theft Victim For $23,312.04

When you are the victim of fraud, you assume that your biggest friend will be your bank. They’re the ones that are supposed to help you put your life back together.

Not so for Gloria Carlo, 51, a single mom from the South Bronx who banks with Bank of America. According to the NY Post, between August and October of 2005, someone completely drained Gloria’s savings accounts. In all, the thief spent $68,733.77 of Gloria’s money, including $23,312.04 in overdraft credit provided by Bank of America.

Gloria filed a police report and an affidavit of fraud. She petitioned the bank to recognize that she hadn’t randomly decided to drain her life savings.

From the NYPost:

“They couldn’t see my funds were depleted? What kind of bank would give an overdraft of $23,000? We are not talking about $100,” she said.

Carlo, a retired clerk with the city’s Human Resources Administration, takes home just $2,110 a month from her pension and Social Security disability benefits.

In all, she lost $68,733.77 in the apparent identity-theft scam, according to her lawyer.

She filed a police report. She filed an affidavit of fraud. She protested to the bank to no avail. Then a series of tragedies – the death of her mother and brother, and her own visits to the hospital for heart failure and pulmonary embolism – distracted her.

Soon after she got back from a three-day hospital stay last month, Carlo found a court summons under her door. Bank of America was suing her.

“Oh, my God, I was shocked. They would not give me a break,” she said. “They don’t care how much the thieves took. All they cared about was the overdraft.”

Bank of America declined to comment.

We’d decline to comment too. —MEGHANN MARCO

DOUGH UNTO OTHERS
[NYPost]
(Photo: NYPost)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Die Schwarze Ewigkeit says:

    What’s that sound? Is that the sound of an obvious waste of time lawsuit being filed and corporate council being fired?

    This will be painful for this poor woman, but there’s no way she won’t come out on top.

  2. eldergias says:

    Bank of America’s corporate motto: “Do be evil”

  3. Why does any large company continue to do things like this as though we won’t find out about it? It isn’t even as if her personal emergencies kept her from filing the police report and contacting the bank in a timely manner. Those didn’t happen until after and even then many banks make exceptions for things like hospital stays when it comes to notifiying them of fraud.

  4. workandrent says:

    I was watching Hitchcock’s “Shadow of a Doubt” last night and the 1950’s BOA sign was the most ominous thing in the movie.

  5. scoobydoo says:

    I just don’t get these stories.

    Am I the ONLY one on the planet that checks his accounts almost once a day to see what is going on?

    How can stuff like this go on for so long without the victim noticing? I don’t rely on my bi-weekly account statements in the mail.

    That said; I do feel sorry for this woman, I’m sure the bad PR already has someone at BoA scrambling to do some damage control, but somehow I don’t think a bunch of flowers is gonna do the job in this case.

  6. joeblevins says:

    I wonder when she did file the police report. Did it get filed before the account was completely drained? Was there a long time period where someone was taking money and no one acted?

    In many of these stories there is another side. And between the two versions of this story there is some truth.

    Do we even know she didn’t do this? Didn’t see a response from BoA. Wonder if there is more to come.

  7. quagmire0 says:

    @scooby: you can check your account online?!?!? :o

    lol. exactly.

  8. enm4r says:

    @scoobydoo:

    Once a day might be excessive, but once a week certainly isn’t, when it takes all of 2 minutes max to login, check to make sure account is roughly what you expect, and then move along.

    I’m in no way blaming the victim here, if this is legit fraud, but I can state that if someone is stealing thousands from you over months at a time, you need to examine some of your finance practices.

    I’m curious to see what comes. There’s always another side, hopefully some questions answered when that happens.

  9. Uriel says:

    Upon declining to comment, Bank of America backed out of their drive-way and ran over Gloria’s cat.

  10. Beerad says:

    @scoobydoo: “How can stuff like this go on for so long without the victim noticing?”

    But the victim DID notice in this case. The article’s a bit shy on details, but the victim did a lot, including filing a police report and filing out a fraud affidavit for the bank. And given that her mother and brother died (and that she herself was in the hospital with heart failure) it’s pretty understandable that she was preoccupied and not thinking “I’m sure the bank is completely ignoring this problem.”

  11. gwong says:

    She’s 51, so I can understand if the idea of checking your account daily/weekly online is a bit beyond her.

    But aren’t there paper statements that she could have checked? Those are sent out monthly and it states the fraud occurred over a two-month period.

    I’m not saying that she’s to blame but the damage could have been lessened if she had been a bit more vigilant.

    Still, Bank of America, you suck.

  12. crayonshinobi says:

    Anyone noticing a pattern here? It would seem that BofA is making an early bid for worst company of the year!

    It’s the daily appearance of BofA on the Consumerist that has me warning friends and family and in turn them canceling their accounts.

  13. mopar_man says:

    Am I the ONLY one on the planet that checks his accounts almost once a day to see what is going on?

    And to everybody else chattering about online banking: is every single person in the US on the internet these days. I think not.

    I do have to agree with the fact that there’s another side to this story. Somehow I can still see BoA to blame here though considering their track record lately.

  14. ExGC says:

    I wouldn’t assume evil here, just bureaucracy and laziness. This likely is just another example of corporate drones checking off the boxes in their “asset recovery” procedures. And given the amount and nature of the claim, I’m willing to bet that no corporate counsel has even looked at the file – someone administrative did all the paper work and the case was handed to a collection lawyer who filed the claim without any substantive review. They do it all the time.

    I once had to deal with a rental car company that did just that, filing a suit against one of our employees for a car that he supposedly rented and that then “disappeared.” It took six months to get them to dismiss the claim, even though we could prove that he rented a different car from the same company, at the same time, in a different city. The local collection lawyer didn’t want to give up his contingency fee.

  15. Someguyouknow says:

    I personally check my BoA account several times a day. Once when i wake up in the morning, once when i get home from work and once before i go to bed. Its a habit now.

    All this bad news about BoA is making me worried. I just signed up with the back a little whiles ago. Probably should have done my research…

  16. slapstick says:

    “According to the NY Post, between August and October of 2005, someone completely drained Gloria’s savings accounts.”

    While she might keep tabs on her checking account, it’s very possible she doesn’t bother taking a look at her savings account very often – after all, it’s money that she probably doesn’t touch.

  17. MichaelDurnack says:


    Banks are for profit entities.

    Bank + fees = Profit for Bank shareholders

    There is no equation that I’ve seen like this:

    Bank = Friend

    This story fits the first equation perfectly

    And all of those Zero Liability offers the bank offers you to get you to use your card? Read the small print, and you’ll see that “zero libility” is totally at their discretion.

    She has to prove she was not involved in this before they will drop it. Don’t bash me about this, I’m pointing out how they look at it first before anything else is considered.

    How do they know she didn’t collaborate with someone else to set up a theft? How does anyone here know? She could have collaborated with someone else to drain her account, then tap the line of credit.

    People try and scam banks all the time, hence the burden is completely on her to proove she was not involved.

    The best defense for protecting your identity is self defense. It really is up to you to protect yourself, this example unfortunately for her, is why.

  18. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Countersue for aiding and abetting the ID theft scammer. I believe that’s a criminal offense.

  19. mac-phisto says:

    When you are the victim of fraud, you assume that your biggest friend will be your bank. They’re the ones that are supposed to help you put your life back together.

    that was sarcasm right?

  20. Crazytree says:

    I wonder if we’re getting only half the story, as in was there any comparative negligence by Ms. Carlo? If they were unauthorized charges, there are STATUTORY protections to limit accountholder liability. The question is, did she waive these statutory protections, and if so, how? Did she wait more than 30 days to notify the bank?

    Personally I would like to see the civil complaint and see the counts and allegations. Smart money is on an allegation of contributory negligence.

  21. Dan_25 says:

    why didn’t she just close the account or do a lost/stolen transfer? were they bank withdrawals, cashed checks, fake debits/ATM withdrawals, or online fraud? Lets not forget, she can also completely freeze the account so no transactions can go through. This story is lacking to much info.

  22. joeblevins says:

    That was a long period of time that someone was taking money out. And how did they get access to her account? Did she just give out the access? I am still against the ‘victim worshipping’ that sometimes goes overboard at these sites. How can you not be aware that someone was taking her money?

    Appears she was in a dire financial situation, and wow.. Someone stole it.. umm… We don’t even know if she just took it all and gave it to some faith healer. We just don’t know what is happening here.

  23. ScramDiggyBooBoo says:

    I’m with most of you. How could you not notice that much money being drained? BoA and others should put something in place that notifies people of activity on an account that has been dormant for a certain amount of time. I guess this would mean the bank gave a crap about you. Not only that, if i overdraw my account once, i get a letter in the mail telling me that it was overdrawn, and the fee for doing such. 23,000 and no letter?!?!?!? Thats why i have a credit union, banks are the DEVIL!!

  24. ShadowFalls says:

    Sure she probably should have kept better tabs on her account, but where was the bank in all this? That is alot of money for a standard person to move in such a short period of time, why did the bank not question such transactions?

    Hard to say without all the evidence on the size of transactions, but even one sizable withdraw a day every day should be enough to red flag the account. Assuming that was 3 full months, that would be $747 a day…

    Ofcourse the article states on one day, 37 transactions took place, no red flags there? I’d expect a damn call from my bank if something like that happened.

    Now not everyone has a computer or the understanding to access this account online, but it is possibile, by the time she got her statements, the damage was done, the article was a little vague on this.

    Regardless, I find alot of fault with Bank of America for not red flagging her account as they are not even ATM withdrawels, these are credit card transactions of large amounts. Hell when I used my credit card and spent just $1000 in one day, I had to contact them to authorize it for security reasons. That shows that they cared.

    Besides, banks are supposed to flag unusual activity, she obviously never splurged out of control like this before and bought a heap of stuff in one day. Why would she suddenly do so to the point of completely emptying out all her saving and overdraft protection?

    I don’t care what anyone says, Bank of America really dropped the ball here, in my opinion, she should be suing them for everything she lost, or at least half of it at bare minimum.

  25. MisterMusante says:

    I don’t believe her.

    People do this all the time. Commit fraud against banks, retailers, auto insurance companies, you name it. Nothing new.

  26. mcrbpc says:

    This post reminded me to check all of my bank accounts and credit cards online activity and I happened to find $90 in fraudulent charges to my Visa! Great timing, Consumerist!

    (not that I don’t check my information regularly, but I do tend to forget about credit cards I do not use very often).

  27. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    There is something missing from this story. When this article says that her “savings” were depleted, I assume that means this woman’s savings account. Is it me, or aren’t savings accounts supposed to be harder to get money out of? It’s not as if banks issue debit cards for savings accounts. Or am I wrong?

    And also to whomever stated that this should’ve raised a red flag with the bank that multiple transactions were occurring throughout the day, it really shouldn’t. If they were all online or phone transactions, how is the bank to know that those transactions are fraudulent – out of the MILLIONS of clients it has? The bank has certain algorithms set up to distinguish between what is fraudulent and what is not, and I don’t think that’s what the problem is here.

    BofA sends out monthly statements, so I find it very hard to believe this woman neglected to realize $70,000 was gone.

    And not that it’s any of my business, but what is this woman doing keeping $70k in her checking account anyway?! Because that’s obviously where it was if it was being withdrawn so easily…

  28. Dan_25 says:

    The money definately wasn’t in her savings account, because if it was she would’ve violated reg D and her savinsg would’ve been closed out.

  29. FLConsumer says:

    @enm4r: Do you realise how rare it is for people to use online banking? I’m willing to bet less than 40% of bank customers do. Look at your customers who are age 50+, that number probably drops down into the teens. I’m in my 20’s and only started doing online banking 2 years ago.

    Back before that, I probably checked my statements about every 3 months when I’d balance my checkbook quarterly. Maybe I’d glance at the balances, but I certainly didn’t run through them with a fine-tooth comb.

    @pinkbunnyslippers: Many people keep at least this much in a checking account. Some people do earn enough and live a large enough lifestyle do justify it. Other people just aren’t sophisticated enough financially to do other types of investments. I know my grandparents are both suspicious of the stock market. Bank CDs are about as “risky” as they’d go for and it took awhile to get them to even consider money market accounts & CDs.

  30. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    @FLConsumer: Like I said, it’s really none of my business how she allocates her money, but if this was her “life’s savings” as the article indicates, don’t you think it should NOT have been in a high-touch account like checking?

    Where do your grandparents put their money if they’re weary of the stock market? My grandparents (with the same sentiments as yours) spread their money out across 4 or 5 different banks (to ensure they were covered by the FDIC’s insurance limits), but it was still in SAVINGS. Not attached to a debit card where it could be so easily removed..

    And for what it’s worth, my dad’s turning 70 this year and checks his online account daily. :)

  31. enm4r says:

    @FLConsumer: Checking your bank statements at the very minimum of once a month when they are sent to you via a paper format is hardly asking too much. Even if you’re ballparking, it takes about 2 minutes to glance at account summaries. No one is saying you have to go through it like an IRS agent, but if you’re glancing at totals, you’re going to notice $70k missing.

    I don’t expect everyone to use online banking. I don’t really care if they do or not. I have no illusions that many people don’t have internet access from a secure computer, or that they even want to use online banking. But that doesn’t mean they have no responsibility to glance at a few “account total” lines on their summaries once a month.

  32. MichaelDurnack says:

    When a bank sends you a statement, they have completed the federal banking requirement / obligation they have to notifying you of your balances on a monthly basis.

    70% of consumers don’t open that statement. Is that the banks fault?

    Something does not add up here, $68K in a bank savings account probably earning 1/2 % interest?

    Anywhere you keep that kind of money, you should check on it, regarless of what she did.

    There were thousands of victims of the TJ Maxx 46 million card numers lost fiasco recently, because they heard about it on the news and looked at that statement for the first time in years!

    The ball is in your court. The best defense is self defense. Don’t expect others to keep track of your identity!

  33. synergy says:

    @ScramDiggyBooBoo: BoA does have that although I don’t know why she wasn’t notified. Over Christmas I accidentally drove-up and inserted my card into a gas pump before I realized that the pumps were shut off. First thing in the morning I got a call from the bank asking me if I was aware of something happening to my account in the last 24 hours. I was glad for that, especially considering it was Christmas day when thieves are at their worst.

  34. Jasmo says:

    moral of the story: if you have 68 grand that you want to keep, entrust it to a not-for-profit credit union, not a for-profit corporation.

  35. mconfoy says:

    whatever the case here, the idea that i have to continuously check my bank accounts to make sure the place that is suppose to keep my money safe has kept it safe is ridiculous. Look what you people are saying! Why not keep it under the mattress then? If I don’t give someone my account information and put the money in the bank and then check it a year later, the law says it better be there plus interest. I am not responsible for checking jack. That is what the banks’ job is.

  36. selianth says:

    The article mentions that $30k of the money was in a 7-year CD. $30k CD + $23k overdraft means that she had $16k or so that could have been taken out of checking or savings. She wasn’t keeping the $70k all in one place. (The article stated it was 5 different accounts that were drained. I’m sure they weren’t all low- or no-interest bearing.) I don’t know how she could have not noticed after the first month but seems like she wasn’t quite as foolish as some people are implying!

  37. tsmith371 says:

    I had a problem with Bank of America also. I tried closing an account 7 times and each time it was “closed”. However next month came the statement along with a fee charged to my account because there was no money in the account. The fee then kicked off an overdraft fee.
    Each time I was required to go 35 minutes one way to the local branch to close the account again. They reversed the fee and closed the account each time.
    They must work on the perfect number of 7 since it finally was closed after a formal complaint was issued with Bank of America.

  38. ancientsociety says:

    I smell something fishy here. Banks are required to have a form filled out (can’t remember the exact name of it. It’s been 8 years since I was in banking) for ANY monetary transaction over $9,999.99. It required by the government (in an effort to track illegal funding – “drug money”, etc.). The teller or personal banker has to ask for a valid ID and fill out the entire form with lots of personal info.

    Even if the withdrawal was via check or a payout, ALL banks check ID for that and require some form of confirmation (signature, etc.).

    The only way I can see this slipping past wiould be a direct funds transfer but, even that, would require some form of identity confirmation and there’s NO WAY the xfer would go thru if the funds weren’t available.

  39. bilge says:

    I had a BoA checking account with about $60 in it. I lost my debit card and someone made a $90 purchase. I asked how it was possible for someone to make purchase in excess of what I have in my account and was that it was a security feature.

    I didn’t get it.

  40. JuliusJefferson says:

    Am I the only one that checked their bank account after reading this story?

    Still, I usually check it at least a few times a week.

  41. quieterhue says:

    There are several things that I find somewhat baffling about this story:

    1 – How did the thief steal her information in the first place? Did she lose her card? Was he account number stolen through the internet? Through a brick and mortar store? (This might have some baring on her level of negligence.

    2 – Does she use paper or electronic statements? If she uses paper statements, it might have been some time before she noticed the overdrafts. BoA knows this, so they DEFINITELY should have contacted her about the withdrawels.

    3 – What was the timeline here? I.e. how long before she discovered the overdraft? How long after that did she file the police report, etc.?

    4 – What is BoA’s policy on identity theft? Do they hold the account owner liable?

    I once had my credit card number stolen and because the charges that were made were fairly small, I didn’t notice it right away. However, the CC company was very helpful and they did not hold me liable for the faudulent charges.

  42. FromThisSoil says:

    I’m thinking of finding another bank to do business with. Bank of America has way too much bad publicity.

  43. WhatsMyNameAgain says:

    1. Customer’s identity is stolen
    2. …
    3. PROFIT!