Bank employees thwart $85,000 theft in North Greenbush

NORTH GREENBUSH — Saturday morning, a man walked into the Berkshire Bank on Route 4 in North Greenbush, and wanted to withdraw $85,000 from an account. Bank employees were suspicious about his ID and his behavior.

“They didn’t feel comfortable with the whole situation,” said North Greenbush Police Chief David Keevern. “They denied him the $85,000. Then he said, can I get #5,000 then? Again, leading to suspicion.”

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Police arrested 48-year-old James Chandler, who they say is a homeless man from the Bronx. They say someone drove him here to try to steal money with a fake ID and a real account holder’s information.

“He was out begging for money outside of a gas station, they approached him and said do you want to make some money? So we’re going to take your picture, we’re going to make a license for you, and we’re going to send you with somebody up to a bank up in the Albany area,” said Keevern.

First Vice President Christina Pickup in Security & Fraud Investigations at Berkshire Bank said, “This was a customer impersonation situation and has been happening around the area for months as part of a larger issue. Scammers gather info, create fake ID’s, and attempt to negotiate checks or withdraw cash at financial institutions. Our employees are trained to ask authenticating questions which the scammers were not able to answer and therefore denied access. We are working with police on this matter.

Customers should make sure that their contact information is up to date at the financial institutions in case the bank needs to verify or advise of possible fraudulent happenings. It is also recommended to try to monitor the activity on your accounts as often as possible.”

Police are investigating if this is related to a criminal ring that operates out of New York City that uses stolen identities and financial information.

“Vigilance is our best weapon in this world today and the bank employees did an amazing job in recognizing the signs that something just wasn’t right,” said Keevern.

Chandler is facing a long list of felony charges, including attempted grand larceny, forgery and identity theft. Police say he has an extensive criminal history. He’s being held in the Rensselaer County Jail without bail.

Police are still looking into the person who drove him to the bank.