Chase Bank Teller Allegedly Fleeces 86-Year-Old Out Of More Than $300,000 In Savings

A Chase Bank teller who befriended an 86-year-old senior allegedly fleeced the women out of most of her $400,000 in savings, says the Chicago Sun-Times, and even though the bank caught the teller and fired her… they’re taking a long time to repay the stolen money.

The public guardian’s office was put in charge of Jessie McDonald’s affairs after a doctor found that she was suffering from dementia. They claim that Chase is preying on a vulnerable consumer by not repaying the stolen money in a timely fashion: “This [teller] was helping herself to about $300,000,” Public Guardian Robert Harris said. “It’s even more egregious when it’s someone who is completely reliant on her savings. She is so vulnerable. You would not expect the bank would be the one preying on her at this point.”

Chase says that they were the ones who caught the teller in the first place, and that they’re working to return the money:”We . . . urged them to intercede on behalf of Mrs. McDonald, and we are currently working with the public guardian’s office to resolve the financial details,” Chase spokesman Tom Kelly said.

Mrs. McDonald owns a townhome in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago, but is currently living at Crestwood Care Centre in Crestwood, IL. Her bills are being paid from her savings, but she’s running out of funds. In order to move home, her townhome will need extensive renovations and she’ll need 24-hour care. In short, she needs her life savings back or she may end up on public assistance.

The Sun-Times says that there’s currently an FBI investigation taking place, but the teller hasn’t been charged criminally. Mrs. McDonald now understands what happened to her and she says she’s disappointed.

“You trust somebody. She was so nice. And I wasn’t thinking,” McDonald told the Sun-Times. “I was really disappointed in her.”

‘She was so nice’ [Chicago Sun-Times](Thanks, Ellen!)
(Photo: epicharmus )

Comments

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  1. Myrddraal says:

    It seems like the bank is actively trying to get this woman her money back. I don’t see what more people want. The bank caught this person and is working with the investigation to get the money back. Sounds good to me.

  2. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    How could the teller not be criminally charged?? If I work for a bank, I won’t get arrested for stealing money, just fired?

  3. BlueTraveler says:

    If an individual stole the money from this customer, then how is it the bank’s responsibility to pay it back? Why is this bank teller not being held accountable and required to pay back the money?

  4. zigziggityzoo says:

    disgusting.

  5. Shappie says:

    Why can’t the bank just put the funds back in the account and do the investigation after that?

  6. katylostherart says:

    the bank should assume some responsibility for their employees actions. i agree the thief should pay back the money herself. failing that, the bank needs to see it’s culpable for its representatives actions. that teller was a representative.

  7. mike says:

    This story kinda surprised me. I mean, I didn’t realize that Chase was a bank. I thought it was just a credit card company.

  8. Murph1908 says:

    @BlueTraveler:
    Do you make that same claim if a Comcast installer steals your laptop? You would be calling Comcast demanding reimbursement.

    The teller is an agent of the bank. Therefore, the bank stole the woman’s money.

    They are probably doing exactly as you suggest, trying to get back as much money as possible from the teller.

    Unfortunately, there is a lot of red tape and bureaucracy surrounding such cases. It may not be as simple right at this moment for the bank to simply put $300,000 into her account. What happens if it was only $275,000 that was stolen, and the other $25,000 was spent by Mrs. McDonald?

    It’s like Myrd said, the bank is actively working on getting her the money back. Let’s not go off half cocked here.

  9. katylostherart says:

    hella missing apostrophes in that…

  10. mac-phisto says:

    @BlueTraveler: anyone who works in a bank with large sums of money is “bonded”, meaning the bank took out an insurance policy to ensure that they would not be liable for any wrongdoing performed by the employee.

    some banks have started to shortcut bonding by making sure employess are “bondable” instead of fully bonding employees. generally though, a large operation such as chase is still bonding any employee who has access to sensitive information.

    either way, the bank has an insurance bond for cases such as this & since the employee was an agent of the bank when she stole the money, the bank is culpable for providing her access to the funds.

    imho, they are just waiting for the bond claim to be paid – bonding companies tend to take their time shuffling papers back & forth before issuing any funds.

  11. Murph1908 says:

    Ok, I just RTFA.

    August 2007 to June 2008 should be plenty of time to sift through the red tape and get the money back to her.

  12. Gopher bond says:

    yeah, really, if a Home Depot employee picks my pocket and runs off into the break room, I’m going to the Home Depot Manager to get my money back, not that crazy Home Depot dude that pick pocketed me.

  13. Murph1908 says:
  14. SkokieGuy says:

    The bank repays the customer immediately. The bank (or insurance / bonding agency) pursues prosecution with the former employee and attempts to recover its funds.

  15. B says:

    If you have 400k in savings, you shouldn’t be keeping it in a checking or savings account. That much money should be in a trust fund or some other investment strategy. And yes you can have it invested in a way that still protects the liquidity that an elderly woman would most likely need. How’s that for blaming the victim? Do I get a cookie?

  16. csdiego says:

    @SkokieGuy: Exactly. The teller wasn’t just a freelance thief, she had access to the woman’s funds in her capacity as a bank employee. It’s the bank’s problem.

  17. theblackdog says:

    @B: You forgot the most obvious:

    “Why is she banking at Chase?!?!?!?!?!?!”

  18. theblackdog says:

    @SkokieGuy: I noticed the article said that there is an FBI investigation into the theft. Could that be holding up why the bank isn’t paying her back just yet?

  19. redrover189 says:

    @B: @B: To be fair, she’s old. You should probably be glad it’s not buried in mason jars in her back yard.

  20. NoWin says:

    @Murph1908: “Unfortunately, there is a lot of red tape and bureaucracy surrounding such cases. It may not be as simple right at this moment for the bank to simply put $300,000 into her account. What happens if it was only $275,000 that was stolen, and the other $25,000 was spent by Mrs. McDonald?”…

    Exactly, since the mis-appropriation started BACK in 2003. I guess the husband and wife back then never bothered to review her statements before he passed and her demetia started…I hate to say this, but the bank does have a leg to stand on. Both the client and the bank may need to sue the alledged teller for fraud to re-cover.

  21. theblackdog says:

    @B: You forgot the most obvious:

    “Why is she banking with Chase?!?!?!?! She should be with a credit union!!!! OMG WTF?!”

  22. Given that $300k is chump change to Chase, I fail to see why they cannot temporarily reimburse the full amount and then deduct anything that they can attribute to the McDonald woman afterward. It’s been ten months, and they still haven’t been able to make this woman whole? Inexcusable.

  23. theblackdog says:

    @theblackdog: Damn slow commenting system!

  24. B says:

    @theblackdog: Thanks for the tip, I’ll try better next time.

  25. samurailynn says:

    It sounds like the woman was doing the fleecing of money off company time. It says that the woman “befriended” McDonald and helped her pay her bills. It sounds to me like she probably met her somewhere and helped her write out checks and such. Unfortunately, she also wrote some checks to herself. If she wrote out the checks, but McDonald signed them, it’s probably a lot harder to prove that it was theft. The article isn’t that specific about how she stole the money, so this is all just speculation about why it might be taking some extra research and investigation.

  26. Concerned_Citizen says:

    The article doesn’t really say how the money was taken. It says the teller helped her pay her bills and siphoned off money that way. The question is, did this occur while on the job. If not the bank doesn’t owe her anything.
    Meeting a teller outside the bank to get her to help pay your bills can not be attributed or blamed on the bank.
    Now if the person somehow had this teller dealing with her bills while on the job in the bank, than the bank has some liability, but definitely not for the full amount.
    You can’t just decide to never check your bank account balance for 5 years and feel the bank owes you 100% of the money lost, and that is further strengthened if her balance was mailed to her monthly or yearly.
    The bank should only be on the hook for the past year tops. I just can’t feel sorry for someone that doesn’t check their own account for half a decade. Her mental status is not important because she was in charge of the funds. That is all that matters. In a case like this the person in charge of the funds is the most responsible. It’s not right that the bank should pay a woman 400k because she is an idiot.

  27. samurailynn says:

    @Concerned_Citizen: I also don’t think the bank is responsible for 100% of the money stolen. It’s really sad that there was no family member who was able to help her with this though. My parents don’t have dementia or anything, but it makes me realize I should try and go over their finances with them at some point.

  28. ahwannabe says:

    The teller was stupid. You don’t make friends with an old lady then steal her money. You make friends with the old lady, convince her to change her will so you inherit everything, then you sit back and wait. Don’t get impatient.

  29. rickhamilton620 says:

    @ahwannabe: Exactly! That’s how it’s done! ;)

  30. coan_net says:

    If an employee of the bank stole money from someone – then it is the employers responsibility also. It is like the bank is saying “Oh, this person stole it – it’s not our fault” – but if that person is their employee and stole it while on the clock – then yes, it is the banks fault.

    The bank should pay the money back into the account – and then the bank themselves should go after the bad employee and the old lady should not be bothered any more.

  31. WaywardSoul says:

    Unrelated to the story but related to banks and the elderly – my 70 year old father got a call from his bank the other day. He has 100K in certificates of deposit through this bank and it’s nearing time for him to renew them or move the money elsewhere. The bank offered him a wonderful opportunity – they now have a 5yr variable rate CD guaranteed not to fall below the initial rate. The catch for this great guarantee? If he dies during the 5yrs the bank keeps his money… ALL OF IT.

  32. Breach says:

    That is a pretty substantial amount, it could take a while to move that much money.

  33. Concerned_Citizen says:

    @coan_net: Incorrect. You cannot allow someone to rob you unchecked for 5 years and blame someone else. A reasonable person checks their money from time to time. Liability is therefore limited. I would say the bank is responsible at most for 1 year. Had this woman been stolen from and she caught it within a year, there would be no problems.

  34. mythago says:

    Wow, a lot of wannabe lawyers here. If the teller used her position as a teller–and access to this woman’s accounts–to commit the theft, then yes, Chase is responsible. “Bonded” doesn’t mean that they are free of liability; it means they are insured for paying if they are liable.

    People who are blaming the victim here need to use a more subtle hand. Picking on an elderly woman with dementia? Have some respect for the craft, amigos. You’re making trolling look bad.

  35. hi says:

    @Concerned_Citizen: hahahahahaha. Thats freaking funny. You’re saying the criminal is only responsible for robbing the lady for the last year he/she robbed the person even when he/she robbed the person for five years. Really funny. Now thats justice. So the guy that locked his wife and kids in a celler for 10 years is only guilty of locking them up for 2 years I guess … the rest is the wife and kids fault. they should’ve known better.

  36. hophead929 says:

    @BlueTraveler: If the teller broke into the customer’s house and stole cash, it would not be the bank’s responsibility. However, allowing someone other than the account holder to take money from the account (whether the thief is a bank employee or not) makes it the bank’s responsibility.

  37. Wormfather is Wormfather says:

    Refund the money…with interest. God, is there no bank left to be trusted?

    I’m going off-shore with the $1200 in my savings…:P

  38. ShadowFalls says:

    @Myrddraal:

    Actively trying would be for them to write a check in the full amount.

    @BlueTraveler:

    It is the bank’s fault. It was their employee, as being an employee, this person was in the position to perform such an action that the bank had granted it.

  39. samurailynn says:

    @mythago: I definitely don’t think this is the elderly woman’s fault. It does sound to me like she merely met the woman while she was working at the bank, and that the woman somehow stole the money while she was off company time. If the woman convinced the elderly woman that she needed to take $1000 out of an ATM and then give her $500 to go pay some bills, the bank isn’t really responsible for that action. However, I will reiterate that it is sad that the woman was depending on an acquaintance for this kind of help rather than a family member or trusted family friend.

  40. Mudpuddle says:

    I agree its the banks fault they impowered the teller by giving access. Its also the individuals fault for ripping her off. However, the individual would not have been able to rip her off if she had no access to her financial goodies.

  41. JollyJumjuck says:

    If the little guy stole $300,000.00 from Chase, they would be put in jail so fast their head would spin, and would likely have everything they have confiscated to pay back the bank. But when the big bank does it to the little guy, they can take their sweet time and the bank’s employee just gets fired, not criminally charged. Laws are written to protect those with more clout, obviously!

  42. mandiejackson says:

    she should have cashed it all and stashed it in her mattress

  43. Myrddraal says:

    @ShadowFalls: How do you figure that the bank is even responsible for paying her? If you hit me with your car you don’t pay me, your insurance does. Same thing with a bank. The bank is helping with the investigation and if the bank is liable then the banks insurance company will pay the woman. It may not be perfect but that is the system. Chase is doing nothing wrong.

  44. Xerloq says:

    @Myrddraal: Sort of. If you have state minimums (say 10/20/20 coverage) and my damages are $150K your insurance will pay me $20K and then I would sue you (actually, my insurance company would sue you as I have $500K under-insured motorist coverage) for the other $130, so you would end up paying.

    Also, you do not drive your car as an agent of the insurance company – you pay them for coverage. As far as I know, no bank teller pays for culpability-insurance in case they’re caught stealing money.

    I do agree that the bank, if found liable, would end up paying; however, it appears that the teller, though employed by the bank, was acting on her own.

  45. Xerloq says:

    @Myrddraal: Just to be clear, I don’t think the bank is responsible – so we agree.

  46. @B: You forgot to blame her for being old and catching dementia in the first place. ;-)

    @Concerned_Citizen: Dude… she had dementia!

  47. @mythago: Couldn’t agree more.
    Now I am in no position to say if the bank is responsible or not… but that’s not the point.

    Shes 86 years old, you really cant expect the poor grandma to be be really savvy. Not to mention the dementia.

    From the side of the bank, 300K+ is not a trivial amount, you cannot just deposit that amount in her account simply because some old lady said its missing. Now its completely possible to do in a small business, but for a bank that large, theres a LOT of layers and atleast a few of those layers have people who are well, kinda jerks, who slow things down – by insisting to play by the rules.(Now thats not really their fault either though.)

    And shame on that teller. Ripping off an 86 year old. Despicable.

    Trolls and tellers made my faith in humanity sink today.

  48. Pro-Pain says:

    The bank teller is a piece of shit human being. Can’t wait till Karma finds her, and she will…

  49. Pro-Pain says:

    @Myrddraal: @BlueTraveler: you are both complete idiots and should be called out as such. That is all.

  50. coan_net says:

    @Concerned_Citizen: I don’t think so. I have a safe deposit box that has things in it – and I probable haven’t been in it for 2-3 years now.

    It does not matter if a bank employee stole from it 5 years ago… or just yesterday – the bank is still resposible for their employees and what their employees do while on the clock.

    So you are saying that if I don’t check it at least every few months, if something from it gets taken I’m just SOL?

    Now what I’m not sure about the store – did the theft take place while the teller was on duty, or did she get off work and then go and do the deed?

  51. seth1066 says:

    Fraud of this woman’s account is the liability of the bank, whom the teller was an agent of. Same as if someone presents a forged check and the bank cashes it; if you agree to swear out a warrant, the money is instantly credited. The money should be returned to this woman int he same manner.

  52. mrsivo says:

    Seth1066, thank you for clearing that up. I don’t understand how anyone can just take that “oh, well” attitude when a defensless old woman has been taken advantage of. If it were their hard earned money, they wouldn’t just suck it up.

    Furthermore, the teller was a representative of the company, and had access and knowledge of the woman’s account information through her position with the bank. Therefore, the bank is liable. If you have a credit card and fraud is proven to have taken place, the credit card company reimburses you.

    This is a prime example of why your money is FDIC insured. For both your and the bank’s protection. They are responsible for returning this woman’s money. Thank goodness her public guardian and the government has stepped in. I just read that Chase has reimbursed her. Now maybe they’ll be filing charges against the woman who stole it.