Ex-JPMorgan personal bankers accused of stealing from dead clients’ accounts
Bank fraud can follow you to the grave.
That’s what prosecutors in Brooklyn, New York, said in the case of two men who worked as personal bankers at JPMorgan Chase & Co and are accused of stealing US$400,000 from inactive bank accounts. At least eight account holders were dead.
Jonathan Francis, 27, and Dion Allison, 30, were charged with crimes including conspiracy and second-degree grand larceny. The men and their conspirators made more than 350 ATM withdrawals from about 15 accounts, according to an indictment unsealed this month.
Francis and Allison “preyed” on such accounts, New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton said in a statement. “Not only did they raid their victims’ savings, they also failed to conceal their deceitful tracks,” he said.
Francis and a third alleged conspirator were arraigned this month. A fourth person remains at large. Francis and Allison pleaded not guilty, according to Oren Yaniv, a spokesman for Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.
From about August 2012 to October 2013, while Francis and Allison were employed as personal bankers at a JPMorgan Chase branch in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighbourhood of Brooklyn, the men electronically accessed “dormant” accounts with high balances, state prosecutors said in a statement.
The men targeted accounts with no activity but regular Social Security direct deposits, according to prosecutors. They created ATM cards for the accounts and withdrew money, prosecutors said.
One told investigators he used the log-on IDs of co-workers when they walked away from their desks, and that he knew the accounts belonged to elderly people, Assistant District Attorney Adam Zion said in the statement .
Victor Knapp, a lawyer for Allison, said it was premature to say whether his client would fight the charges. Allison left the bank about two years ago and moved to Georgia, Knapp said. The former personal banker “has had no criminal background whatsoever” and is a “family man,” the attorney said in an interview.
Douglas Rankin, a lawyer for Francis, said his client is “not guilty of these charges and was not involved in any conspiracy to take any money.” Francis has left the bank, he said.
JPMorgan Chase has been “working closely with the authorities and the Social Security Administration since notifying them of this incident,” Lauren Ryan, a spokeswoman for the bank, said in an e-mailed statement.
“We will continue to do so to ensure that the funds are reimbursed to our customers or their estates or returned to the government,” Ryan said.
The charges follow two other cases this year involving allegations of theft by former employees at the bank. Last month, former JPMorgan Chase broker Michael Oppenheim admitted he stole more than US$22 million from accounts of wealthy customers.
Oppenheim pleaded guilty November 5 in Manhattan federal court to securities fraud and embezzlement. He admitted to using the money to gamble on sporting events, pay his bills and trade stocks online.
In April, former JPMorgan employee Peter Persaud was arrested and accused of stealing customer data. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn said he was caught trying to sell the information for thousands of dollars to an undercover informant.
Persaud told the informant he expected to be paid US$7,500 more after one account was supposedly emptied, prosecutors said. The case is pending and Persaud has pleaded not guilty.