Modern-day bank robbers working with tellers to steal IDs

Call it modern-day bank robbery, a scam involving a simple phone call that Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance says is on the rise across the city and the country.

And audio recording show how it unfolds.

Bank representative: "Thank you for calling."
Caller: "I would like to update my current telephone number."
Bank representative: "Sure. We can definitely update your phone number."

Authorities say the caller is really a thief using stolen bank account information to order new checks so he can get money from a stranger's account. According to prosecutors, the thief got the stolen information from a bank teller.

Bank representative: "And what transactions did you want to go over, sir?"

And it is not just one account. The thief has access several.

Caller: "I would like to know how much I have in my accounts, please."
Bank representative: "OK, you have $14,327.13."

Vance says bad tellers are often part of larger identity theft rings.

"Bank tellers have access to very confidential data," he said. "They're selling that to individuals on the outside, who will then take that information and turn it into credit cards or checks."

He says he has seen an alarming increase in these crimes, even estimating that he prosecutes a case about once a month.

"I think we should all be worried," he said. "That doesn't mean we should all panic."

One victim, who did not want to be identified, claims her identity keeps getting stolen and that thousands of dollars were removed from her account just weeks before the biggest day of her life.

"We had been working for about a year to save up a lot of cash to pay for our entire wedding," she said. "And it was gone."

She says she had no idea that a bank teller had stolen her identity, along with 28 other customers, until she received a letter from her bank, Chase, which read, "a former employee may have accessed your account information without authorization and gave it to someone outside of Chase."

It went on to say that "as soon as we discovered this, we immediately called the authorities, fired the employee, and reimbursed the customers. We're sorry and angry this happened."

But Vance says not all banks aggressively fight and report these crimes.

"I think some banks need to be doing more," he said. "If it's not reported to law enforcement, it's just an invitation for that criminal to keep the money and go onto the next account or next bank."
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