Bank tellers charged with stealing customers personal information

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Five people are under arrest, charged with accessing records and stealing the personal information of customers at New York area banks.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced indictments against the five for running an alleged identity theft ring targeting customers of local banks.

The defendants are accused of stealing over $850,000 by having bank tellers access and steal personal information of hundreds of unsuspecting customers, including account numbers and Social Security numbers.

They allegedly used the information to withdraw money from those accounts.

The tellers involved worked for branches of Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, HSBC, TD Bank and Wachovia in the Bronx, and Westchester and Orange Counties among others.

"Bank tellers have access to our most sensitive financial information and we must be able to trust that our data will remain safe and secure," said Schneiderman. "Identity theft is a complex and growing problem, and we must redouble our efforts to ensure that all of us - from large corporations, to small businesses and families - are better protected."

The defendants allegedly used the stolen information to create fake drivers licenses and checks, which they used to withdraw money at bank branches. The investigation, which was conducted by the Attorney General's Criminal Enforcement and Financial Crimes Bureau, revealed that the ring has been in operation for at least four years.

The alleged ring leader was Tyrone Lee, 28, of the Bronx. Three of his alleged co-conspirators - Nadia Figueroa, 23 and Kalika Arline, 29, of the Bronx and Venise Cole, 27, of Florida - were employed as bank tellers at Wachovia and JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and TD Bank, respectively.

Anthony Davis, 29, of the Bronx was in charge of manufacturing the fraudulent documents used by the ring to steal from the victims, authorities say.

According to the indictment unsealed in Westchester County Court, the three tellers routinely accessed the bank accounts of hundreds of customers to obtain personal and financial data. They then relayed that information to Lee and Davis, who used the information to create fake documents using the stolen customers' information with, in some cases, the defendants' own pictures. Those fake IDs were then used to withdraw money at bank branches in New York City, and Westchester and Orange counties, as well as Long Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

During the investigation, investigators used court-authorized wiretaps to intercept telephone calls and text messages. Authorities say the defendants were overheard speaking in code about customer accounts, which they called "joints," the "bands" of money they would steal (referring to $1000 stacks of cash) and the banks they intended to target, including "touchdown" for TD Bank and "Yase" for JP Morgan Chase.

The banks where the customers were victimized:

JP Morgan Chase: 5 West Burnside Avenue, Bronx, NY
HSBC: 1 East Fordham Road, Bronx, NY
Bank of America: 50 West Fordham Road, Bronx, NY
Bank of America: 206 Main Street, White Plains, NY
JP Morgan Chase: 235 Main Street, White Plains, NY
JP Morgan Chase: 410 South Broadway, Yonkers, NY
Bank of America: 479 North Broadway, Jericho, NY
Wachovia (now Wells Fargo): 43 North Plank Road, Newburgh, NY

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