NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A Nacogdoches woman says everything she has is gone after she became a victim of fraud.
Lois Molandes, 89, says she first noticed something was a little off when her bank statements were lower than she expected, and that's when she discovered 32 fraudulent checks were cashed at her bank and in her name. But she says one significant difference in the signature proves that it was not her that signed those checks.
"I can't understand why anybody would do like Traci has done to me. She was good to me. But yet, she was doing something she wanted to do…taking my money," Molandes said.
Molandes housekeeper, 51-year-old Traci Konrad, is still in the Nacogdoches County Jail after she was arrested Tuesday on charges of Forgery from Elderly. But for Molandes, Konrad is much more than an inmate…she was a friend.
"She would love on me—tell me how much she thought of me. She said 'I love you. You are a good person,'" Molandes said.
But those were all lies, Molandes said.
"She wasn't true. So, I don't know honey what to say for her, but I do hope to get my money back. It's hard enough to live on what I get without her taking it," Molandes said.
In fact, since Friday, November 1 the family has realized around $14,000 were allegedly stolen from Molandes.
"During a one month time there were 32 checks that she had cashed to herself and that amounted to $7,500. Since then we have gotten two more months worth of statements and the total was over $14,000 and that's what we filed fraud on with the bank," Molly Hoya, the granddaughter of the victim, said.
Hoya says they noticed the signature was a little different on several of those checks because of the way the letter 'L' was shaped.
"It's obvious that you can see the checks that she signed and then on the same day you can look back and you can see the checks that Traci signed for herself," Hoya said.
That's when Hoya decided to confront the suspect.
"She admitted right off the bat that she had done it and she was sorry. She didn't know it had gotten out of hand and that she was going to pay it back," Hoya said.
Hoya said she gave Konrad two days to pay the family back, and when she didn't meet that deadline that's when she filed charges.
But that isn't the biggest problem for the family who is now fighting Regions Bank in Nacgodoches who told them they would not be reimbursed for the money that was allegedly stolen.
"We were under the impression that the bank was watching out for her account. They didn't call my mother. They didn't call me, which they could've called me. They know very well who her granddaughter is. I may not be on her account but they know me. And so I just feel like they didn't do anything to stop it," Hoya said.
However, Evelyn Mitchell, a spokesperson for Regions Financial, said in a statement:
"Regions is working with our customer and with law enforcement to investigate the accusations of fraud on this account. The situation is unfortunate and we are committed to working with our customer to resolve it in a timely manner," Mitchell said.
Molandes says she doesn't want Konrad to serve prison time, but she does want her money back.
"It makes you afraid to trust anybody and I've got to have someone to be with me so I hope they punish her somehow," Molandes said. "It's hard to tell. That's all I can say…really hard to tell who you can trust."
If Konrad is convicted she could face 2 to 10 years in prison or a $10,000 fine.
If you think your parent, or grandparent is a victim of an elderly fraud scam, file a police report as soon as you see suspicious activity on the account. Dispute the transaction(s) with your bank, close the account and file a fraudulent checking claim. Make sure to keep checks in a secure location and if you are a financial co-signer for your parent or grandparent, make sure you secure those checks yourself. Also, always pick up new checks at your bank and never get them sent through the mail.