There's no doubt that bank employees are in a position of trust. Customers walk in every day and hand them money, confident it will be in their bank account when they need it. To do their jobs, high-level bank employees have access to lots of sensitive consumer information and even cash, so when an employee turns to crime, things can go downhill fast.
That's exactly what's alleged to have happened at not one, but two banks in Oakland, Calif., where a former banker is accused of having stolen more than $1 million from customers at US Bank and First Republic Bank, according to reports by The Oakland Tribune and KTVU.
Linda Foss, who worked at US Bank from 1983 to 2012, most recently as a branch manager, is accused of siphoning off money directly from one customer's certificate of deposit, or CD, account, reducing the balance from $972,000 to $353,000. Another former client said Foss had forged her signature on checks worth more than $40,000.
Foss was later terminated by US Bank, but quickly got another job at First Republic Bank. From there, Foss allegedly tried to cover her tracks by stealing from other customers to replace the stolen funds, including $164,000 from first one, then another elderly client at First Republic.
Eventually, authorities caught up to Foss, who will face trial on money laundering, theft from an elder adult and grand theft charges.
Beyond the consequences for Foss's clients and her community, the incident does raise some serious questions for bank customers in general. Foss was terminated by US Bank in March of this year, according to the report. Did they know or suspect something was wrong, and if so, how was she hired to be a branch manager at another bank? And how was a bank employee allowed to siphon more than $600,000 from an account without attracting immediate scrutiny?
It seems inevitable that unscrupulous bank employees will find ways to bilk customers, but banks owe it to customers to do their utmost to keep a close eye on account-holder funds and prevent crime wherever they can, and to make customers whole when they fail.
What do you think? Do you ever worry about fraud at your bank?
Follow me on Twitter: @ClaesBell.