Prosecutors say that two New York bank employees stole more than $300,000 from the accounts of elderly or deceased individuals. The men worked as personal banking representatives at a JPMorgan Chase branch in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood where they are said to have targeted dormant accounts that were still receiving regular automated deposits from the Social Security Administration. Prosecutors say that the men illegally accessed 15 accounts between August 2012 and October 2013.
According to a statement from the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office, the money was withdrawn from the accounts in question at ATM machines using debit cards that the two men had arranged to be issued. Eight of the account holders were deceased, but the Social Security funds continued to be deposited because authorities were unable to verify the deaths. The men are also facing charges of submitting falsified powers of attorney to gain access to the accounts.
The bank involved informed authorities about the scheme after conducting an internal investigation, and it will likely be ordered to return the money taken to the Social Security Administration, the account holders in question or the estates of the deceased account holders. Two further individuals are said to have participated in the scheme, and police report that one of them is still at large.
Media coverage of cases involving white-collar crime charges often focuses on the financial losses of the victims, and this emotional element can make things challenging for criminal defense attorneys. In cases involving money withdrawn illegally from bank accounts, defense attorneys may point out that the losses of the victims will generally be paid by the bank in question. Attorneys may also seek to avoid the unpredictable outcome of a jury trial by negotiating a plea agreement as prosecutors may also be under great pressure due to the negative publicity that these cases tend to attract.
Source: New York Daily News, "Two JP Morgan Chase bankers in Brooklyn indicted for stealing 400K from accounts of elderly or deceased", Christina Carrega-Woodby, Dec. 28, 2015