Helping a woman get back stolen money

Seven On Your Side
February 15, 2008 8:20:39 PM PST
A woman from Brooklyn lost her life savings when she was ripped off by someone she knew. But the theft didn't bankrupt her. Because she called for a special kind of overdraft protection - from Tappy Phillips and 7 On Your Side.

It took a Brooklyn woman years to build her nest egg. But in just hours, she says it was lost, ripped off by someone she actually knew. Can anything save her?

Seven On Your Side had the answer, and a valuable lesson for anyone with a bank account.

"They showed me the checks," Elois Tillman said. "I said I didn't write those checks."

They were four electronic checks, drawn last summer, on Tillman's account. Tens of thousands were gone.

Elois: "Twenty-one thousand dollars."
Tappy: "Twenty-one thousand dollars, all in one day?"
Elois: "Yes."

The money was taken from Elois' savings account at Banco Popular. She said she knew it was fraud because she never did electronic withdrawls from the account. She said the four in question stood out like sore thumbs. And the checks? Elois' last name was misspelled, and there was another name on the account.

She also says the checks did not look like any she had.

Elois says the name was that of a foster child who was living in her home. Even though the child apparently stole the money, Elois thought the bank had some responsiblity and should have caught the errors before the money was withdrawn.

"I think my money wasn't safe there, and I feel like they was completely wrong in the whole part of it," she said.

But Banco Popular told her there was nothing they could do.

"They said that they could not take my case no longer," she said.

Accorrding to banking regulations, after a rip off, consumers have 60 calendar days to report fraud to their bank. Since it was an apparent forgery, she also had to fill out a fraud affidavit with the bank and make a police report.

Elois did all this, but still, the bank would not return her money. But one day after our call, Banco Popular put the entire $21,000 back in Elois' account.