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Merrill Lynch Broker Allegedly Steals $320,000

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A broker from Merrill Lynch allegedly stole more than $320,000 from an elderly woman by forging her signature.

Peter Lau, 37, who was the victim’s broker, stole some 28 checks from the victim and forged her signature before depositing them for his own use from June 2004 to December 2005, Brown said in a prepared statement.

Watch your bank account balances! Online access has to be one of the best inventions of the 1990s. I’ve been checking my Roth IRA account this week, noticing that my first automatic deposit for the year hasn’t gone through. I generally expect a little bit of a delay at the beginning of the year, but while the fund prices were updating every day, my checking account wasn’t hit with a withdrawal.

So I called, and it’s a good thing I did; their system skipped over my January 1 deposit, and they will fix the error retroactively. In this case, it was merely a small accident, not purposeful bilking, but you never know. I wouldn’t have known for another month if I only read paper statements.

Updated September 28, 2007 and originally published January 6, 2006. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar jim

Wow, that’s over $10,000/check… it’s unfortunate that people take advantage of less tech-savvy consumers who can’t just check their balances electronically.

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avatar FMF

Amen to the concept of checking all your records. I track mine like a hawk.

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avatar FMF

Forgot to mention that I found a double charge from a bookstore this month on my Amex bill. If I hadn’t looked it over and reconciled the account, I may never have found it — and would have been $32 poorer.

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avatar thc

The victim in this story was 95 years old and didn’t have online access to her account. But the forgeries were spread out over 19 months so she either knew what he was doing or wasn’t paying attention to her monthly statements.

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