Scotiabank teller accused of stealing money from clients
Published: September 26, 2012
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ST. CROIX - A 27-year-old teller at Scotiabank was advised of her rights Tuesday morning and charged with embezzling $24,000 from unsuspecting customers.
Mellanie Milligan of Estate Mount Pleasant was arrested at 6 a.m. Tuesday on a warrant issued by Magistrate Judge Miguel Camacho on charges that she committed 11 counts each of the crimes of forgery, embezzlement by fiduciaries and passing forged bills in incidents committed between March and October of 2011.
During the hearing, Camacho advised Milligan that she could face more than 300 years in prison.
According to the supporting affidavit filed in V.I. Superior Court by V.I. Police Detective Robert Soto, the V.I. Justice Department was notified in March by Scotiabank officials that they had received a series of complaints regarding the theft of the $24,000 from two of its customers.
The bank had launched its own internal investigation and determined that the unauthorized transactions and cash withdrawals all were made by Milligan, who has been a teller at the bank for the last five years, according to Soto.
The bank traced 11 transactions back to Feb. 10, 2011, in which Milligan signed the clients' names on withdrawal slips and took money out or withdrew more money than they had requested on a withdrawal slip and kept the balance.
Milligan withdrew money from one savings account belonging to one of the bank's senior citizen customers on three separate occasions in 2011: Feb. 10; Feb. 18; and March 7, according to court documents. The withdrawals varied in amounts from $700 to $3,500 and totaled $5,100, according to the affidavit.
The bank received an inquiry from the customer on Feb. 26 questioning the specific withdrawals, and a verification check by the bank revealed that the signature used was irregular and did not match the one on file on the signature card at the bank, according to the affidavit. The bank then traced the transactions back to Milligan's teller number, according to court documents.
The bank received additional complaints on Oct. 19, 2011, from another senior citizen customer, who questioned eight transactions from two of her savings accounts that totaled $18,900, Soto said.
The verification check also determined that the signature did not match the customer's signature card and the unauthorized withdrawals all were conducted by Milligan, according to Soto.
According to the affidavit, Milligan withdrew money from the two accounts from March 4 to Aug. 8, 2011, and the transactions were in the amounts of $1,000 to $5,000 each. The transactions alternated between the two accounts, and in two of the transactions, the customer had authorized the withdrawal from the bank but in the amount of $943. Milligan withdrew an additional $2,000 in one instance and an additional $500 in the second instance without the customer's knowledge, according to Soto.
Scotiabank Vice President Lawrence Ackley said Tuesday afternoon that the bank takes incidents of theft by employees very seriously.
"Whenever there is the slightest inkling that something is not right, we begin to look into it," he said.
Ackley said incidents of theft are not isolated to Scotiabank or even to banks in the territory or region. He said he is not sure what processes are used by other banking institutions, but Scotiabank handles every situation on a case-by-case basis, and prosecution is always an option.
Bail in Milligan's case has been set at $75,000.
Milligan was able to post property to secure her release Tuesday. She is scheduled to be arraigned on Oct. 12.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email email@example.com.