• Life

    Posted on March 22nd, 2010

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    Elder Abuse: CHASE Bank vs My 92 year-old Mother

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    CHASE ATM Theft

    Fraudulent activity with ATM card on my mothers' CHASE bank account. Multiple withdrawals per day were made on consecutive days at ATM machines all over the city during the time she was in the hospital in a very confused state.

    On March 3, I discovered that someone stole my 92 year old mother’s CHASE ATM card while she was in the hospital and managed to withdraw over $8,000 during the period of time between February 24 and March 3. We thought that the culprit might have been one of her aides, who have been working for her for years but to date the police cannot prove anything. Whoever did steal the card has done this before. They went to ATM’s all over the Bronx and Manhattan, all either on the street or inside of bodegas – all places where cameras are not available.

    CHASE has just informed us that they will not refund my mother the money. They claim that since the pin number must have been given out that the card was compromised and therefore they are not responsible.  Her memory is not what it used to be. She needs home health care workers to assist her in the activities of daily life, sometimes going with her to retrieve money from the ATM.

    What I would like to know is  why CHASE did not flag this suspicious activity and alert us to this? My mother usually made one or two withdrawals every month for a about $100 a piece. In the period from February 24 to March 3, multiple withdrawals were made per day for amounts of $100-200 each from both her her checking and savings account totaling over $8,000 plus non-ATM fees. What is more, all the withdrawals were made at ATM’s in neighborhoods that my mother had never been to before and would not have gone to! What kind of bank allows this to happen without questioning it?

    Until she went into the hospital this time, my mother carefully watched her bank account, paid her own bills and balanced her checkbook each month. She would have noticed any unusual withdrawals. However, when she was brought into the Emergency Room in the middle of the night, she was taken without her pocketbook and wallet and the door to her apartment was left unlocked. When I arrived at the ER at the Allen Pavilion of Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, I asked the aid who was scheduled to come in to retrieve her purse and bring it to us in the ER. I didn’t look in the contents of the wallet at this time so I have no idea whether the ATM card was there at that time or not. What I do know is that, once I discovered the money missing from the bank accounts, I did have one of the aides look and she informed me that the card was missing.

    I know now that it was not a good idea to leave my mother’s purse in the hospital room with her. But, the thing is, nothing but the ATM card was missing. All of her credit cards were there as well a a small amount of cash.

    So, who is responsible? Who stole the card? It might have been one of her aides, though they have been working for her for many years and have never stolen anything before. Or maybe a hospital worker? Or maybe an EMT? Someone working at the Independent Living Retirement community where she lives? The police are investigating but it is doubtful that we will ever truly find out. The police detective on the case has interviewed one of her aides and seems to believe that she is innocent. The other aide is voluntarily going to call and make an appointment to speak to him as well — not something a guilty party would likely do. Could someone have looked in my mother’s wallet, seen her ID cards and guessed at her pin number? It’s possible.

    One thing that is clear to me however – CHASE, a bank where my mother has trusted her money for years, had a responsibility to monitor my mother’s accounts for fraud and to alert her (and us) if something was out of character. They failed to do this over a period of two weeks – enough time for a considerable amount of my mother’s life savings (which she needs to live on) to be taken from her. Instead of doing the right thing (for which I am sure they are insured), CHASE has instead decided to take a hard line against an elderly woman. If this isn’t taking advantage of the elderly I don’t know what is.

    Apparently there are other complaints against CHASE for this very same thing. A similar thing happened in Watsonville, CA in January of this year which I discovered at RipoffReport.com. What am I going to do next? Alert the media, that’s what.

  • Design, Giving Back

    Posted on February 7th, 2010

    Written by

    Design for Haiti

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    Help Repair Haiti

    Poster uploaded to the Design for Haiti website

    I designed this poster for the Design for Haiti website, which was created by Aaron Perry-Zucker, who also created the Design for Obama website, in which I also participated. Click here to see my entry on the website and rate it.

    My poster, shows the red and blue colors of the Haitian flag and the word “Haiti” with a vertical rift being sewn together with a needle and thread. The message: repair Haiti!

    The purpose of this website is for designers to use their creativity to help call for advocacy and understanding in light of the devastation and upheaval created by the recent earthquake.

    In general, human services around the world are in great need of more people with case management certification, to aid those suffering.

  • In Memory of Christine

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    Photomontage of Christine Stoddart

    Taken Too Young.

    I lost a friend this week. She had Lupus but in the end, it was a blood disease (unrelated to her Lupus) that took her life. She was 47.

    Christine Stoddart was (I can’t get used to using past tense) one of the strongest, most generous, caring people that I know. She lived her life large. She was fearless. I think she had no regrets. She always said that she knew she would die young and wanted to get the most out of every day. And she did. She was a great skier and an incredible golfer. She was always the first person to buy a round of drinks. She had an incredible smile and the most beautiful blue eyes. Her favorite color was blue. She loved her family. She loved her friends.

    In June of 2008 she married her husband Glen who she met on a ski trip to Jackson Hole. I was lucky enough to attend and photograph their wedding in Yellowstone Park. She moved to Vail, CO where Glen lived to start their life together.

    When I last spoke to Christine, about 3 or 4  weeks ago, she sounded happy. She and Glen had moved into a new home, she had a job that she liked and lived in a place that she loved. The only things missing were the friends and family she left behind in New York. But living in a ski town, she knew that the distance wouldn’t prevent her from seeing her friends. She had opened her home to her friends in the past and was already planning how we’d all come out to visit to ski with her in March.

    She was a good friend who brought light and humor into the lives of those she touched. I will miss her dearly. The world will be a bit dimmer without her.

    Keeping her Memory Alive

    Christine was an incredible athlete stemming back to high school, where she was awarded the Gold Key Award in her senior year. This prestigious NYSPHASS Award is presented to athletes who have at the end of their high school careers, participated in intramurals, varsity and junior varsity sports and demonstrate leadership skills.

    Her family has established an organization, the Friends of Christine Stoddart, to keep her memory alive. The organization will raise money to establish a scholarship fund, and help refurbish the girls’ team locker room at her former high school, Earl L. Vandermeulen High School in Port Jefferson, NY. Donations can be sent to:

    Friends of Christine Stoddart
    c/o Susan R. Mickel, Chase Bank, 120 Main Street, Port Jefferson, NY 11777

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