Bank Tellers Reveal The Most Depressing Financial Mistakes They’ve Seen People Making
One of the most stressful jobs in the world must be handling other people’s money. Sure, the bankers at the top of the chain may contribute to human misery but those people who work in retail branches?
They mostly want to do some good for their community and earn an honest day’s pay. Sadly, when people ruin their own finances, it’s often their bank teller that has to let them know.
These people all ruined or nearly ruined their finances thanks to their own foolishness or the foolishness of others and it was down to the bank tellers of Reddit to tell them where things had gone wrong.
This is what they said…
#25 The Fake FBI Agents
I was a teller for about 6 months. This happened at my branch a few times. Older lady around age 70 walks into the branch while on her cell phone.
She walks up to the counter and wants to liquidate the $78,000 cash from her savings account. This is extremely suspicious so I begin to ask questions as to what the funds are going to be used for. RED FLAG #1
She tells me she is going on vacation to Las Vegas and needs money to gamble with. Well, $78,000 is a lot of money to gamble with, not to mention fly with. So I ask her why she didn’t wait until Las Vegas to withdraw the funds. Her response, “I lost my debit card.” Even though she swiped her debit card to authenticate herself at the beginning of the transaction. RED FLAG #2
While all of this is happening she remains on the phone but has put the phone down on the counter. Through the phone, I can hear the voice of a male continually say, “take it all out.” RED FLAG #3
I get the lady to hang up the phone and call the branch manager and lead bank teller who begin to question the lady.
Turns out she was approached at the grocery store by 3 gentlemen who posed as FBI agents, before coming to the bank. They asked her to be part of an undercover operation that they were carrying out. They needed a large sum of cash to take to a suspected drug dealers house to make a purchase. Agents were then going to arrest the people inside the house, and her money would be returned.
Thank goodness we stopped this from happening before she could withdraw her money. This happened a few times in my short time working in the banking industry.
#24 The Guy Who Loved His Church
Man calls up because his credit card isn’t working. I tell him he is maxed out and read off the last few charges to him:
04/06: $10,000 – Church of Scientology
04/15: $15,000 – Church of Scientology
05/03: $18,0000 – Church of Scientology
In total his $50,000 credit card and his wife’s $50,000 credit card were both maxed out with Scientology charges. When I told him I thought he was going to freak out. Nope. He was just like “Oh. Ok. Thank you.”
#23 When Things Just Won’t Add Up
I worked for a student loan servicer. A friend had a woman call in who couldn’t afford her $900 a month student loan bills. He figured that was fair as asked her how much she made monthly.
“No, I mean, how much do you make monthly.”
“…. 40 thousand.”
#22 The Most Expensive Text In History
Not a bank teller, but I was at the bank when I overheard the teller speaking to a customer who was trying to withdraw 40,000 in cash.
Teller: Why exactly are you withdrawing this much money. We cannot stop you, but we highly advise against this.
Customer: I need to pay the Inland Revenue Service (IRS).
Teller: We can arrange to wire the money directly to them, and you can always pay with a check. I am pretty sure that the IRS doesn’t want you paying them with cash
Customer: Well, that’s how I’ve been paying them.
Teller: How much have you paid them so far?
Customer: About $60,000.
Teller: How did the IRS get in touch with you?
Customer: They came to my house, and told me I failed to pay a lot of taxes. Now I have to pay them back.
Teller: How have you been paying them back?
Customer: I meet with the IRS agent and he takes the money.
Teller: Sir, I think you may have been a victim of a scam. This is not how the IRS would go about having you pay back taxes…
Customer: No, the agent had a badge. It said IRS on it.
Teller: Sir, I am getting our fraud specialist involved. I really think you’re being scammed.
Customer: [visibly agitated] How do I get my money back?
Teller: I am not sure that we can get it back. We’ll probably need to get the police involved, and since you’re meeting the scammer in person, perhaps they could do a sting. I’m really not sure, we’ll need to have you talk to our fraud specialist.
Customer: Well I want that money back now! I can’t afford to take out another loan. I took out enough already to pay the IRS!
Teller: We’ll get to that, but right now I need you to calm down, and under no circumstance should you communicate with this “IRS agent” until after you speak to our fraud specialist.
Customer: But I just texted him to ask if he was scamming me!
Teller: What did you text him?
Customer: [beginning to cry] I told him the bank thought he was a scam. Did I mess this up?
Teller: [sighs] I don’t know. Just stop doing anything until you speak to our Fraud specialist.
The guy looked to be in his 60’s or 70’s. Turns out someone impersonated the IRS to trick him into paying “back taxes” directly in cash. He had taken out loans to pay for it and had withdrawn money at multiple branches without a teller questioning it. His only hope was to get the police involved to sting the guy when he tried to collect the next “tax payment” but he texted the scammer and blew his cover before that could even happen.
So the guy lost about $60k because he blindly believed that the man in a suit that showed up at his front door was the IRS…
#21 The Old Lady With A Generous Streak
When I was a teller supervisor one of my regulars was a lady in her 80’s that signed up for every phony sweepstakes and lottery scam in the book. Every week she would come in – dressed up very nicely and always wearing long white gloves – with 4 or 5 checks for a few thousand dollars that she needed to cash so she could wire back to pay taxes on her winnings. No matter how many times I explained it and confiscated the checks so she couldn’t take them elsewhere, she was always back the next week with more fraudulent checks. “I was sure I won this time.”
She had hundreds of dollars withdrawn from her account electronically each week by various sweepstakes and there was nothing I could do about it because she had authorized it. At one point she refinanced her home to cash out about $80,000 in equity. After two years she was down to nothing. Each week I filed a financial elder abuse report (a California thing), and the authorities talked to her a few times and always determined that she was competent.
#20 Elder Abuse Is All Too Common
Not me, but my wife.
An elderly woman comes in, asks if she can close her account. She wants to close her account because her husband is a drug addict and has overdrawn the account. Because he’s joint on the account, she can’t just take him off. He has to sign for it. Then, my wife looks into her account and sees that it’s $800 overdrawn. After she tells the woman that, the woman literally faints right there in the bank.
Young guy and an old woman (his mom) come through the drive-thru. Guy asks for a large sum of money out of old woman’s account. Old woman protests and says she only wants $10. The guy starts yelling at his mom, calling her a stupid woman and a number of other nasty names. Since the woman’s name is the only name on the account, she ignores the guy and gives her the $10. The pair comes back multiple times that day, same song and dance. Since it’s suspicious, my wife puts a note on the account and sees in the computer system that they’d been to multiple branches, multiple times that day withdrawing money. They come back, and the guy actually starts hitting his mom right there in the bank. Police are called, it’s an ordeal.
#19 Lotto Wins Are Not A Ticket To Easy Street
Was a bank teller many moons ago. Had two, unrelated, customers that won lottery jackpots and got yearly checks. Each ran out of their first-year money before the second check came and had to apply for loans. One was a retired trash collector in his 80’s who had 13 children by 11 different women and bought each baby momma a house. Also bought a limo and hired a chauffeur. He didn’t live long past collecting his second check.
#18 Stealing From Children
We have a savings account for kids, but only the adult on the account is permitted to withdraw money from it, for legal reasons. Well, this woman comes in with her son (I assume the whole family is on drugs by the way) and asks how much is in her account. -$0.12. So, she asks how much is in her son’s savings account. $7.00. So, she draws out all that money, with her son right there. I can only assume she needed it to buy drugs. It made me an awful combination of sad and mad.
#17 Son Takes Mom For A Ride
Banker, not a teller. Last August, an elderly female customer put her son on her account as power of attorney, enabling him as much control over the account as she had. The account held about $120,000. The son started making frequent withdrawals of $5,000, and after each visit, we duly notified headquarters of suspected elder abuse and unusual cash activity.
By December, it was all gone, spent on a new pickup truck, computer, and the son’s “girlfriend” in Romania.
After the money was gone, the cops got involved, but since the son was Power Of Attorney I don’t even know if they can prosecute.
#16 The Bank Is Not A Money Tree
This actually happened to me a few weeks ago.
This older guy, about 60’s, came in. He asked me to look up his account balance. No big deal, I verified ID and once his account popped up, they all had red locks. I looked at the notes on the account and they all said to call collections. He had several lines of credit as well as a title loan, and all were 4 to 5 months past due. I asked him if he knew about this, he said, “it’s not my problem anymore. But I am here for another loan. When one runs out I just get another.” “Sir, you do realize the bank didn’t just give you the loans to keep, you have to pay them back…” he cuts me off and starts demanding a manager saying I’m being ridiculous and telling lies.
My manager comes out, takes him in her office. About 45 minutes later he comes out crying, and when I got back into his account, they were all charged off and closed out. The poor guy doesn’t have a dime to his name, and we had to take a loss… so sad.
#15 Watch Your Significant Other
A friend of mine worked at a bank for a few years. He said it was a regular thing for someone to come in take all the money out from the account and then have their significant other come in and find the account had already been cleaned out.
#14 Candy Crush Crushed Her Credit
I had a (~60 yo) lady call in and ask about a game charging to her checking account. I could see she had very little income and much of it was going to App Store games on her phone. She said that she lived alone and much of her time was spent playing Candy Crush and the like and much of her money was spent buying new lives. She had actually called in because she wanted to know if she had enough money buy lives in some game, and when I said she had less than 10 dollars in her account she was overjoyed.
#13 A Sad Story Balanced By A Happy One
This guy comes in every single week and withdrawals a couple hundred out of his mother’s account, which he has Power Of Attorney (POA) on. His mother is in a nursing home and received a large check for the life insurance policy on her late husband. He’s managed to go through the entire check in less than nine months. In just the last few weeks, he’s blown a couple grand and we don’t know how because he withdraws it in cash. We legally can’t deny him transactions because he has all the paperwork, but his mother knows and the entire situation is really sad.
Other than that, I really only see gamblers. There’s a retiree who came in and got out fifty dollars every once in awhile to buy groceries. We had placed his account on hold because his loans were delinquent by about four months. He finally talked to our Financial Recovery Department and admitted what was going on. The company I work for really cares about its clientele, so they worked with him on getting the payments caught up and finding him help for his gambling addiction. It’s nice when he comes in now because I know he’s getting what he needs.
#12 Your Husband And The Casino Have Your Cash
I was an online/phone banker for 3.5 years. The saddest one I can think of is a wife calls in because the account is overdrawn and nothing advanced from her home equity line of credit to cover the overdraft, so they got a bunch of fees.
I reviewed the line of credit to see if they may have missed a payment or something small like that which would put a temporary hold on the acct. Nope, her husband had drained the whole account. $70,000 gone. Almost every transaction was an advance of a few thousand dollars into the checking account, and then in the checking account, there were ATM withdrawals on the same day as the advances for the same amount. ATM transactions will sometimes have the address and name of the establishment in which they are located in the transaction description. The husband’s favorite ATM was located in a casino.
#11 A Walking Advertisement For Fraud
We have an older woman who has her Social Security (SS) money at another bank but ours is more convenient physically so she just wires her money to us. In tiny increments. And is charged a flat fee each time that is nearly as much as the money. And nothing we can say to her will make her change her ways.
Also is crazy enough to have her info including Social Security Number (SSN) hanging on a lanyard around her neck. And she wonders why she has so much fraud on her account.
#10 Scratch Cards Are Not An Investment
Obligatory not a banker, but I worked at a bodega one summer and some guy blew his entire paycheck on scratch-offs. He only won like $50 back.
#9 It’s Better To Plan Than To Fail
Financial advisor at a bank some years back, and a guy comes in looking for an increase on his line of credit, currently sitting at $30k, maxed out. I knew this guy used to work as a civil engineering project manager, but he had been laid off sometime before this meeting.
He had a “business plan” he wanted to run by me, so he pulls out this case filled with t-shirts. They’re your standard t-shirt, logos silkscreen on them, stuff like hockey teams, Mickey Mouse, bands, random t-shirts basically. He tells me he’s in the t-shirt printing business, he’s got a ton of inventory and equipment, and he just needs a bit more credit available on the line to get this business really going, maybe another $30k.
I ask, “Dave, do you have licensing for all these logos?”: blank stare.
“Dave, you do know you can’t just up and sell these without licensing; how much have you spent on this?”: “$50k”…
Months later this same guy came back wanting to open up a business account for a daycare… No kids himself, or any experience in it, he just thought it was a good idea.
Also saw someone blow through $2mil in 2 years from a lottery win, but that one’s really depressing…
#8 She Doesn’t Know
Worked as a loan officer for a very short time for a credit union. This one still leaves me baffled.
Had a woman call in to refinance her truck to lower her $250/month payment. Ok. The verified monthly income between her and her husband was over $10,000 A MONTH. For Oklahoma, this is way high. I pulled her credit report and it turns out her truck was in repossession status and they were close to foreclosure on their house. Credit cards were all 60+ days past due. I asked the reason for the negative reports (as was our protocol, it had to be documented before I sent it to our underwriter)…
Her response was “I don’t know, ok? I get paid, I spend money on whatever. That’s why I work for it is so that I can do whatever I want.
#7 Falling For Fraud Is Foolish
I’d been promoted from bank teller to customer officer at this point but still here goes:
The customer came and sat down in front of me, said he was worried he’d been scammed. Turns out he had come into the bank a few days ago asking for a loan but as he was unhappy with the interest rate we offered him, he went home and typed ‘i need a cheap loan’ into Google.
Unsurprisingly, the first link he clicked offered him exactly what he wanted at a very very low repayment rate. All he had to do was make the first monthly payment and they would credit the money into his account.
So he’d done this and then they came back to him saying they needed his bank account details so he sent them a screen print of his online banking screen. They then asked him for some ID so he sent them a copy of his passport and his driving license.
Finally, they said they needed a $500 tax payment that he could claim back from his local council office. After making this final payment, he was met with silence…….
So he waited two days……
Then another just to be sure……
Finally, he went to the council office to ask for his $500 back except they had no idea what he was talking about so he decided to come and see the bank.
During our chat, he was very calm and resigned to what had happened, despite me being shocked that a guy in his mid 30’s who seemed fairly intelligent could have managed this. Before I put him on the phone with the fraud department, he turned to me and asked, “apart from the money, have they got anything they could use against me in the future….?”
I was so flabbergasted all I could respond with was “Yes…..you’ve given them everything!”
#6 Rich Man Looks Very Poor
I remember once there was a man that came in, wearing some raggy clothes looking pretty shameful. He apparently hadn’t visited us in years and was extremely poor, living in what was essentially his best friend’s closet. Whatever he did to his finances somehow paid off. He had a couple billion dollars now somehow. All of his information was out of date but he was able to access his money. Odd thing is that last I heard, he spent a very large portion of it on a tin of anchovies… weird guy.
#5 The Bank Teller Was His Own Worst Enemy
The worst I saw was a fellow teller. He was full-time and knew his stuff but he was honestly a loser. He quit everything he ever tried, except drinking. He would show up under the influence often, he was cocky and arrogant and smelled weird and dressed like those straight guys that are trying to be stylish by wearing a pink shirt with blue pants and brown belt and shoes. He had that blow-to-start thing on his car too. Took taxis to work. Borrowed money from his sick dad to pay his bills. He knew how to manipulate the banking system and get around overdrawing and whatnot. He was so smart with his scheming, if he had just gotten his act together he would have been a great teller and a great guy.
#4 They Literally Bet Their House On Things
A couple pulled out a HELOC (Home equity line of credit) to spend at the casino. Would max it out at $100,000, pay some off and max it out again. Had no money in their accounts and had maxed out a credit card as well.
#3 Dad’s Hard Work Comes To Nothing
I was helping out at a different branch once and this disheveled young guy comes in and withdraws a few thousand dollars. A couple hours later he comes back in and takes out a few thousand more. After he left the manager there was telling me that the man had just sold his business that he inherited from his father passing away, and was more than likely using the money to buy adult substances.
#2 The Nigerian Prince Finally Finds A Victim
I had a customer fall for the Nigerian prince scheme. It put her nearly 20k into debt and she had to take out a loan from the bank to pay back the money she lost. I was working the day the day my manager opened up the loan for her. She was in tears the whole time.
A couple weeks later she comes to my window. Said that she got in touch with the Nigerian prince and explained what happened, he said he “felt bad” about the “delay” in getting her money back so he mailed her $2,000… in cash.
She hands the money and I look up at her and she said: It’s fake isn’t it”? It was. They were the most incredible fakes I had ever seen. Passed our electronic test and our chemical test. But the paper felt wrong and the bottom corner number on the bill didn’t go from shiny to black when you moved into/out of the light. At least she didn’t have to pay back a fake deposit?
#1 The Parental Fraudster
I helped one of the bank managers audit, once, when I was a teller.
A few accounts owned by a name were flagged. I pulled up the account. It was a kid my age (at the time, I was 17) whose finances were being managed by her mother. From the time the kid was 12, the mother had been writing crazy amounts of checks on the kid’s account but making sure the kid was the “primary” somehow on everything.