Blytheville woman victim of fraud & identity theft

BLYTHEVILLE -- This story is guaranteed to have you searching for your latest bank statement.  It involves a Region 8 woman and the loss of thousands of hard-earned dollars through fraudulent electronic transactions made on her checking account.

For 31 years, Eva Hildebrand has cleaned and straightened classrooms at Gosnell High
School.  Working hard for her money is not unusual.  But, suddenly--last year--her money started disappearing.

"I noticed that my money was going down and down and I quit shopping," said Hildebrand.  "I quit even buying groceries. We was living on noodles."

With the help of her daughter, Maggie, Eva began searching for answers.

"We collected every single bank statement from when it started happening all the way to about March," said Maggie.

Electronic transactions that Eva had looked before--still didn't look familiar.

"I could not tell it because it had like initials and some numbers and I didn't know what it meant," said Eva.

But, some transactions were easier to read.  And that tipped the pair off.  Numerous withdrawals began showing up from Capitol One, Alltel and Nationwide...entities Eva had never done business with.  Reviewing the statements--with her bank-- turned up $10,594.75--gone over a year and a half.

"She starts telling me about it and I just sink in the chair and I could not even breathe," said Eva.  "Nothing but tears. I just couldn't think that anybody would do me this way."

The President of Eva Hildebrand's bank declined camera on camera with us to talk about the electronic drafts made on her account.  But he did issue this statement.

Federal banking regulations allow customers 60 days from the date of their bank statement to dispute any discrepancies on their account.  If someone has an unauthorized charge on their account, it can be returned to the originate within the 60 day limit.

Eva says she took for granted her bank of 36 years was watching out for her.   But, the feeling of security changed the day her car was nearly repossessed.

"She said, 'well we're coming to pick up your car.'  And I said well, 'why?'  She said, 'well you don't have enough money in the bank and your behind two payments.'  And I said, 'well, it couldn't be.'"

That got Eva to close her account, but it didn't stop the nightmare.  Her credit was ruined.

"Identity theft is not a victimless crime," said Blytheville Police Chief Ross A. Thompson.  "It is not. If you've had your credit stolen, it's kind of like a part of you. That's kind of been stolen."

The police investigation into who might be responsible for the money stolen from Eva's account continues.  Several names of individuals with Blytheville addresses actually show up on her bank statements and those names may provide clues.  But it's not certain how it all began.

"I don't know how because I never lost my purse, "said Eva. "Never lost my purse."  She did have a debit card; but now does not even use that.   And her daughter says she's learned a lesson about financial security.

"If you're going to end up trusting a bank with the money, you have to check on it yourself instead of trusting the bank with everything," said Maggie.