MetaBank said "it does not appear at this time that she stole any bank money as part of this fraud," but the bank says there are still "unresolved questions as whether, under what theory and to what degree the bank might be liable for the former employee's actions."
Another thing that makes this case troubling is that the customers victimized were financial institutions. One would think they had professionals making and verifying the deposits at MetaBank.
I find it hard to believe that MetaBank didn't quickly pay the affected customers of all of their deposits and interest. With this publicity, who would trust MetaBank with their money? I'm also surprised that MetaBank's regulators didn't require them to immediately make their depositors whole. An attorney for one of the affected credit union's made a good point in The Des Moines Register article:
"Frankly, it would undermine the entire banking system if a bank is allowed to refuse to pay back deposits on the basis that someone thereafter stole them, especially when the thief was one of their own branch supervisors,"
You might think that the FDIC would protect depositors in his case, but FDIC insurance does not cover losses due to theft or fraud. One important thing you can do to protect yourself is to check your balances online and check your statements monthly. As described by the OCC's website:
Your deposit account agreement states that it's your responsibility to review your periodic statement and advise the bank of any errors. Generally, you have 30 days from the statement date to find the error and notify the bank.
This might not help if the criminal employee is able to falsify the statements and the online balances. Another thing that may help is avoid dependence on any one bank representative. Dealing with multiple employees can make it harder for one rogue employee to get away with fraud. Please leave a comment if you have any other advice on how to prevent being a victim of this type of fraud?
Update 7/15/09: 2008 press release in which MetaBank described the theft.