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Women sentenced in $256,000 Palo Alto credit union fraud

Original post made on Feb 16, 2012

Two women who stole more than $250,000 out of a couple's Palo Alto credit union account were sentenced Tuesday, Feb. 14, in Santa Clara County Superior Court, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office announced Thursday.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, February 16, 2012, 1:54 PM

Comments (20)

Posted by how
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Feb 16, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Why was it so easy for them to access someone else's bank account? Did one of them work at the bank? Or is the bank's security so weak that they could access the account without any credentials? This kind of bank robbery sounds so much easier than walking into the office with a gun.

Posted by read it
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 16, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Yes, one of them worked at the bank. See paragraph 2.

Posted by Mr. Ironic
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 16, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Only one year? hahaha Wow that will teach them not to do it again.

Posted by Hulkamania
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 16, 2012 at 8:00 pm

It's pretty easy to access an account if you've either got access to info because of your job, or can connect to an internal network with a protocol analyzer like a Network Sniffer.

Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 16, 2012 at 8:10 pm

I would not be happy if the IRS forgives these perpetrators the income tax due on $256,000. There should be an $80,000 lein following them around for the rest of their lives.

Posted by gumby
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 17, 2012 at 3:58 am

They will only serve half if that! wow white coller crimes need to be changed. I hope the elders get their money back! sounds like they could have money waiting once they are out!

Posted by Victim from another crime
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2012 at 7:50 am

Let me just say this. As a victim of another crime from another area. I never received the money that was stolen out of our accounts via forged checks. To top it off, the person who did it. Was never placed in jail, because she came forward after seeing her pic in our newspaper crime stopper ad. Oh, I was told it was only $1200.00

Posted by Curious
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 17, 2012 at 10:33 am

Aren't such accounts insured? If so, against what hazards are they insured? Wouldn't the credit be liable for the criminal acts of its employees? Don't understand the situation.

Posted by Dan
a resident of Southgate
on Feb 17, 2012 at 11:28 am

1 and 3 years for stealing $250k from an elderly couple isn't nearly enough. What lame judge is responsible for this?

Posted by member
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2012 at 12:17 pm

If all of the crimes were felonies why isn't she going to prison for life. Would she quality for the 3 strikes policy?

Posted by Susie
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Feb 17, 2012 at 2:11 pm

only 1 year and you get life if you smoke dope 3 times!

Posted by senor blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 17, 2012 at 4:02 pm

So, did the elderly couple get their acct reimbursed by the Credit Union??????

Posted by Barron Parker
a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 17, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Hey, you steal a quarter million dollars, get a slap on the wrist, no restitution or tax liens or anything, and you're out in a few months ready to do it again.

The worst thing about these crimes is that most people who do this are psychopaths: they have done it in the past and will do it over and over for their entire lives, causing great suffering to everyone they encounter. They'll go to another city, steal another identity, and play the same game until they are caught there. Repeat for 50 years. And judges are taken in because the criminals seem repentant each time.

Posted by L. Mimmack
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 17, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Was the money not insured by the FDIC?

Posted by Carlitos waysman
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Feb 17, 2012 at 9:25 pm

"Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Deng said. "I hope their sentences show other potential thieves that this type of criminal behavior is not to be tolerated." What a joke!!!!

Pang Thao, Nancy Vang,Deputy District Attorney Jennifer Deng and the inept Judge Rene Navarro should be thrown in jail together 'till they come out with a right sentence that fits the crime

Posted by Addison Avenue (now called First Tech Federal) Credit Union customer
a resident of another community
on Feb 17, 2012 at 10:48 pm

I am a longtime Addison Avenue (now First Tech Federal) Credit Union customer. Within the past few months, they just started offering a limited capability for electronic alerts to report account activity by email and/or text message.

Why didn't Addison Avenue Credit Union, now called First Tech Federal Credit Union, have procedures to detect the creation of a PIN number without authorization? Why didn't the closure of an account exceeding $100,000, coupled with a transfer to an account held by someone other than the original owners, trigger an internal investigation by the Credit Union and/or by the National Credit Union Association (NCUA) immediately (or at least within 60 days)?

Why doesn't First Tech Federal Credit Union offer electronic account alerts for Certificates of Deposit? Why can't First Tech e-Alerts notify more than a single email account, and why can't they offer unique, independent e-Alerts for each account, rather than a single threshold e-Alert that must apply across all accounts belonging to a credit union member?

Posted by Steve C
a resident of Menlo Park
on Feb 18, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Who says crime doesn't pay?

Posted by Kt
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 19, 2012 at 9:11 am

Addison ave credit union customer, with all of those questions you should be second guessing the security of your money with this credit union. I really hope that the this poor couple gets their money back..... I bet the guy who robbed 711 (if caught) will do more time than these thieves.......Such a flawed system.....

Posted by Deborah Colby
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 21, 2012 at 7:44 pm

My name is Deborah Colby and I am the VP of Marketing for First Tech Federal Credit Union. I'd like to take the opportunity to respond to a few of the items raised in the comments above.

Let me first assure everyone that our members affected by this fraud did not lose any money. First Tech replaced 100% of their funds.

For the privacy and security of our members, I cannot share in this forum specifically how the fraud occurred or what we specifically did to address it. I can share that we take our members privacy and security extremely seriously. We continually monitor our systems, processes and procedures for fraud and take immediate action when needed.

Unfortunately, in this case, it was one of our own employees who committed the fraud. The individual has since been terminated and we actively participated with local authorities to prosecute the parties involved.

Finally, I'd also like to address the questions around NCUA insurance. Just like FDIC insurance does for bank customers, NCUA insurance protects credit union members from losses up to $250,000 in situations where their credit union is deemed insolvent. NCUA insurance does not protect members' assets from fraud perpetrated by other individuals.

From that perspective, most credit unions, including First Tech, carry separate insurance policies to protect their assets from fraud. Much like you pay auto insurance to protect your automobile in case of theft, loss or damage, First Tech carries insurance to protect itself from fraud, theft, etc. Once again, the members did receive 100% of their money back.

I appreciate the engaged discussion around this topic. Continual education and discussion makes us all more aware of how to protect ourselves.

Deborah Colby
First Tech Federal Credit Union

Posted by Senior Blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Feb 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Thanks to Deborah Colby for explaining about the different kinds of insurance involved. It sounds like because First Tech is solvent, its equivalent of FDIC, NCUA, had no role to play. Also, it appears that First Teach was liable for the theft/fraud perpetrated by their employee, but that it carries another kind of insurance to cover the risk of loss resulting from fraud. In any case, it is a relief to know that the individual Credit Union members who were the initial victims of this fraud did not lose their savings. Many thanks for helping us understand the situation.

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