A couple of years ago, Margaret, a 75-year-old retiree, was victim to a series of thefts and she didn’t even know it.

The thief, a trusted aide, helped herself to Margaret’s ATM card and withdrew $400 from Margaret’s bank account—every two weeks. 

Thousands of dollars, plus precious heirloom jewelry, was taken over the course of three years while Margaret was sleeping. Because this amount was the usual denomination for Margaret, it didn’t really set off any alarms for Margaret’s bookkeeper until the withdrawals became more frequent and Margaret couldn’t account for the expenditures.  The bookkeeper called the bank and learned that the withdrawals occurred at 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. Obviously Margaret was not banking at those ungodly hours and something was wrong there.

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Full disclosure: Margaret was my organizing client and I had found the banking weirdness. Margaret and I met at a local chamber of commerce meeting and so began a long and happy relationship that blossomed in her closets and eventually grew into me helping with her bookkeeping and managing the affairs of her home. So it was me who found the irregularities in her checking account and that’s when we called the local police and bank.  The case was  transferred to the State Police. By reviewing the bank’s security camera footage, the thief was identified and the Westchester County District Attorney became involved.

We prosecuted the thief and were able to recover some of the money from the bank, as per their policy, and jewelry from the thief as a condition of her sentence. The heirloom pieces from Margaret’s deceased husband were never recovered, having been sold off at a pawn shop in the Bronx. In the end, we were relatively successful but, of course, it was a shocking and distressing event.

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