State honors bank employees for protecting Issaquah senior from fraud
July 28, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
NEW — 12:15 p.m. July 28, 2011
State Attorney General Rob McKenna honored Bellevue bank employees Thursday for protecting a then-78-year-old Issaquah man suffering from dementia.
In 2008, a massage therapist at a local assisted-living facility and another woman tried to bilk the man out of his savings. Authorities said the women took the man from the Issaquah facility to a courthouse wedding. Then, the massage therapist bride and the other woman took him to a Bank of America branch in Bellevue to cash out his bank account.
Employees called the police, and officers arrested the women.
For the effort, the employees received AGO Community Heroes plaques from McKenna at the bank. The attorney general also announced training materials to encourage more tellers to come to the aid of vulnerable customers.
“These banking professionals understand that exemplary customer service can be as simple as speaking up for a client who can no longer speak for himself,” McKenna said in a statement. “The training materials we’ve produced encourage employees at banks and credit unions to be on the lookout, and speak up for vulnerable customers, just like Elizabeth Reamy, Laura Olson and Darshana Maru did.”
Legislation written by the Attorney General’s office, and passed last year, directs the office to produce training materials for banks and credit unions. Under the law, financial institutions must provide training to front-line workers about vulnerable customers.
“Often by the time police and prosecutors are involved, damage has already been inflicted,” King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg said in a statement. “Bank employees are in the best position to spot these crimes before they occur.”
The law also protects banks from lawsuits if employees make a good-faith effort to protect a vulnerable customer.
“At Bank of America, the safety and security of our customers and their financial assets are our top priorities,” Bob Landers, area executive for consumer and small business banking for Bank of America, said in a statement. “We are extremely proud of our employees who acted so quickly to take action on behalf of our customer. We also applaud the release of these new guidelines from the Attorney General’s Office, which provide additional guidance to our industry on recognizing and reporting fraud and abuse against our most vulnerable customers.”