ATM fraud costs man $24,000

Seven On Your Side
April 22, 2009 3:03:54 PM PDT
The Keyport man had suffered multiple health issues and needed a health aid. His partner hired a woman from a local agency. But when money started disappearing from their bank account, they realized they had been robbed. "It was the ultimate betrayal." That's how Steve Cummings defined an alleged robbery to Seven On Your Side's Tappy Phillips. He says the home health aid he hired for his companion, Jim Gordon, ripped him off.

Jim has multiple health issues including kidney failure and a weak heart. Last August they hired a home health aid to help Jim while Steve was at work.

"We completely trusted her," said Steve. But one day, Steve opened Jim's bank statement and noticed some strange charges.

"Things like Jiffy Lube, Stop & Shop, K-Mart, Wal-Mart and I knew he wasn't shopping at those place." And Steve says it got worse. He found mysterious trips to Atlantic City charged to the bank account and hundreds of dollars withdrawn from ATMs in a single day. The account started out with over $24,0000 in it. But after a couple of months, "It was now whittled down to $34.10, emptied out."

Steve made a police complaint and soon the home health aid became a suspect. Police believe she watched as Jim entered his PIN at an ATM and then stole his card. Shortly afterward, she was arrested.

When we found the health aid, Lataisha Rawlinson, outside her Keyport home she didn't want to talk to us. Prosecutors say she faces theft charges.

But Steve and Jim thought the bank should have stopped the withdrawals long before the account was depleted.

"The bank never called us, they made not one phone call inquiring about any suspicious activity, which is what you would think a bank would do."

Steve reported the fraud to the bank but they denied his claim.

"I thought that banks were places where your money is safe, and now I've learned otherwise," says Steve.

Then Jim and Steve got Seven On Their Side. "We got our money back!" said a surprised Steve.

PNC Bank put the entire amount, more than $24,000 back in the account.

The company that hired the home health aid said she passed a criminal background test before she came to work. It says it suspended the health aid and hasn't charged Jim for another home health in weeks. As for Jim and Steve, they say they've moved their money to another bank - this time without an ATM card.


Story by: Tappy Phillips

Produced by: Steve Livingstone

STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Tappy Phillips