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TOOELE — A Zions Bank employee has been arrested for allegedly stealing more than than $43,000 from a 90-year-old woman's account over the past year.
Stephanie Huber Bennett, 44, of Tooele, was arrested for investigation of 22 counts of exploitation of an elderly adult and 22 counts of forgery. Investigators believe Bennett, a teller at Zions Bank in Tooele from 2006 up until the time the alleged fraud was discovered, withdrew $43,700 since January from the account of a 90-year-old customer.
The elderly woman, "with the help of a family member, reported that after reviewing the victim's account, suspicious withdrawals were found," according to a statement from Tooele police, who began investigating on Dec. 9.
"Zions Bank was contacted and assisted with video and other documents showing the transactions were all made by the arrestee. Zions Bank investigators found video showing the arrestee was alone in the lobby when the transactions were made," according to a probable cause statement from Tooele police. "The arrestee stated she has assisted the victim with many financial transactions."
Zions Bank released a statement saying Bennett is no longer an employee as of Dec. 10.
"We are unable to discuss specifics regarding this situation. However, we are working closely with the Tooele City Police Department in (its) investigation," according to the bank's statement.
A relative at Bennett's home Tuesday said they had no comment about the case.
"There's more financial exploitation going on in the community than people really realize," said Debbie Booth of Adult Protective Services. "With a bank employee, it makes it all the more egregious, I think as far as we're concerned, because a bank employee is usually the people that you trust."
Booth said having a conversation with elderly parents about money can be important since exploitation, particularly of older women, is common. Many times the perpetrator is a relative or friend.
"It's a really sensitive topic, but it just takes asking Mom if she's OK or asking her, 'Mom, how are your finances? Are you able to share that information with me?'" she said, adding that banks often offer services that can help family members monitor bank accounts.
"They're not necessarily on the bank account, but they can monitor things," she said.
Tooele police detectives said their investigation is ongoing to determine if there are other victims in the case. Anyone who believes there has been suspicious activity with their financial accounts can contact Toole police at 435-882-8900.