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UPDATE: SCV Sheriff's Deputies arrest bank employee

Posted: July 9, 2014 10:02 a.m.
Updated: July 9, 2014 5:37 p.m.

A Santa Clarita Valley bank employee has been arrested on suspicion of using bank information to steal thousands of dollars from customers, a sheriff’s deputy said Wednesday.

The employee has since been fired from his job.

In January, a Newhall man contacted deputies and reported unauthorized transactions appearing on his bank statements, Deputy Josh Dubin said Wednesday.

“Our detectives are very serious about this sort of crime,” Dubin said. “They began investigating a case of identity theft.”

The Newhall man told detectives that $8,000 had been fraudulently withdrawn from his account. Specifically, he told them the thief used his bank card number to obtain goods and/or services totaling more than $8,000 without his permission, Dubin said.

Then, in May, another victim contacted deputies about another identity theft incident. This time, the thief apparently took double what he had taken previously.

“The (May) victim reported she had over $16,000 taken from her checking account in April,” Dubin said.

“We began an extensive investigation as detectives started to see similarities between the two cases,” he said, “particularly regarding how the money was taken out of the accounts.”

After an extensive investigation, detectives learned that both incidents had a common suspect — and that suspect was a bank employee.

At one bank location, the victim left her debit card and it was allegedly retrieved by a bank employee and later used without authorization.

At another bank location, that same bank employee allegedly encouraged the victim to leave his debit card behind and assured the victim a new debit card would be provided. The bank employee then allegedly changed the PIN code and made purchases without authorization.

Detectives worked with supervising bank staff as the investigation continued. Banking supervisors were extremely cooperative with investigating detectives.

Detectives arrested 25-year-old Samuel Jose Godinez of Valencia on July 2 for his alleged involvement in both incidents.

He was booked on felony commercial burglary, theft by access card, and for passing checks with known insufficient funds. Godinez, whose bail was initially set at $20,000, was later released on bond.

Godinez was “terminated” from his job at the bank and has yet to be arraigned on criminal charges. The name of the banking institution was not being released, Dubin said Wednesday.

Identity theft is “a serious crime that can wreak havoc with your finances, credit history and reputation,” Dubin said in a news release issued Wednesday. “It can take time, money and patience to resolve. If you take action quickly, you can stop an identity thief from causing more damage.”

Deputies advise anyone who believes he or she is a victim of identity theft to: file an initial fraud alert; order credit reports to check for fraudulent activity; and notify law enforcement.
on Twitter @jamesarthurholt




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