Bank Manager Begins 63-Month Prison Term

     FORT WORTH (CN) - A former Bank of America branch manager was sentenced to 63 months in federal prison for brazenly stealing over $2 million from customer accounts, federal prosecutors said.
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     Pamela Kay Cobb, 30, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Terry R. Means on Wednesday and ordered to pay over $1.1 million in restitution. She pleaded guilty in March to one count of bank fraud.
     Cobb, branch manager of the bank's River Oaks location, "fraudulently used customer names and bank account numbers to fill out withdrawal slips" and "sometimes forged customers' signatures," according to a six-page criminal information filed against her in March.
     The scheme lasted for nine years, with Cobb taking just under $10,000 each time, to avoid federal reporting requirements.
     "Cobb victimized customers with whom she had a long-standing relationship," the information stated. Cobb knew that her customers would not suspect her of wrongdoing. If customers noticed an improper transaction, they would likely report it directly to Cobb. When customers complained of improper transactions, Cobb immediately refunded their accounts with money stolen from other customers' accounts. This response served to confirm victims' trust in Cobb."
     Cobb took the money right in front of her employee-tellers, a written statement released by the prosecutors said. "Cobb informed the tellers that she was withdrawing cash for the customer and, occasionally, that the customer was waiting in Cobb's office. Sometimes, however, the customer was not present. The tellers did not question the legitimacy of the transaction or request identification because they trusted Cobb and believed that the customer was in Cobb's office.
     Cobb tried to cover her tracks by blocking bank statements from being sent to victims, and entering codes into the bank's data system that classified their addresses as unknown.
     "Cobb used the stolen money for personal expenses including, but not limited to, vacations, clothing, jewelry and land purchases," the statement added.
     Her unauthorized transactions totaled more than $2 million, with the River Oak branch's losses exceeded $1 million, prosecutors said.