Hi-Tech Bank Bandits Befuddle Investigators

CLEVELAND – Bank robbers just stole thousands of dollars from one of northeast Ohio's biggest banks, and they didn't even need ski masks and guns to do it, 19/43 News' Ed Gallek exclusively reported.

The bandits ripped off tens of thousands of dollars from various accounts at Charter One Bank using only a computer. They were so cunningly calculating that investigators aren't even sure how the thieves managed to pull off the heist.

People who keep their money in a big bank, like Charter One customer Chris Tomsa, often feel like they have nothing to worry about.

"I'm confident in the banking facilities I have," Tomsa said. "They're doing the right things for me, and protecting my interests."

Investigators, however, said that nearly $28,000 mysteriously disappeared from accounts of Charter One customers.

Thieves used computers to move the money electronically from the innocent customers' accounts to accounts set up by the crooks.

"We just can't tolerate this abuse in the system," Cuyahoga County prosecutor William Mason said.

Mason hauled four suspects into court this week, but they were only accused of ending up with the money. As for the mastermind behind the heist, Mason just doesn't know.

"What we don't know yet is who was working with them inside the bank and how they were able to get access to the identifying numbers," Mason said.

Charter One said that the culprit could've been a bank employee or someone with an outside company that does work for the bank. Whatever the case might be, bank customer Secdonia Hall suddenly wants to check her statement.

"I haven't been looking too closely, but I will from now on," Hall said.

In fact, the problem first came to light when an alert customer noticed a discrepancy on a bank statement.

Charter One did reimburse the customers that were victimized, and the bank has changed its procedures for electronic transfers, hoping to prevent another hi-tech heist in the future.

A banking trade group, however, said that similar crimes are happening across the nation.