Montgomery Village couple sues SunTrust Bank over missing college money -- Gazette.Net


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This story was updated at 4:05 p.m. April 22, 2014.

In a lawsuit, a Montgomery Village couple accuses SunTrust Bank and Education Systems Federal Credit Union of not preventing thieves from using a bogus bank account to swipe more than $80,000 meant for their daughters’ college funds.

According to Montgomery County Circuit Court records, a couple on Darlington Drive in Montgomery Village, filed a civil lawsuit April 8 tied to an alleged theft in August 2013.

The couple asked not to be identified by name in this story.

The couple banks with the credit union and had meant to deposit $83,202 into an account tied to the state-run College Savings Plans of Maryland, court filings said. The money was supposed to fund their twins’ college education. Their daughters are in kindergarten.

“I watch them reading books and doing math,” the mother said. “Someone decided rather than going out and earning a living, they decided to go out and steal money from two 6-year-old girls.”

The couple placed two unendorsed checks made out to “Maryland Prepaid College Fund” in the mail.

Montgomery County police alleged in a news release Friday that thieves stole the checks from their mailbox. According to court filings, the money was deposited into an account named “Maryland Prepaid College Trust.” The account was created at a SunTrust branch in Maryland by someone who used a Pennsylvania driver’s license with a Washington, D.C., home address, according to a description provided in the lawsuit.

“Obviously, that should have raised a red flag,” said Jamie Kay, an attorney representing the family.

Hugh Suhr, a corporate spokesman for SunTrust, said it’s the company’s policy not to comment on ongoing litigation.

According to the lawsuit, SunTrust called the family’s credit union to confirm that the checks weren’t fraudulent. The mother contacted SunTrust after that. She told the bank that she drafted the checks, but said she didn’t know if those checks should have gone to SunTrust.

She was later informed that College Savings Plans of Maryland had not received her checks, according to the court filings.

The funds were fully withdrawn over the course of three days. SunTrust has refused to refund the money, the lawsuit alleged.

The couple is seeking financial compensation, though the lawsuit did not specify an amount. Their lawsuit accused the financial institutions of negligence and breaking Maryland’s commerce laws.

A court hearing was scheduled for July in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

The mother said the amount of money they lost was enough to make anyone angry. “But when it’s your children’s future that gets stolen? I don’t even have the words to describe that emotion,” she said.

Meanwhile, Montgomery County police are looking for leads in the case.

On Friday, police released surveillance photos of two males at a SunTrust branch where the deposit was made.

As of Tuesday, police had yet to identify suspects, according to police spokeswoman Angela Cruz.

Police have asked people to call the police financial crimes division at 240-773-6330 or leave a tip with Crime Solvers, at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

tarnold@gazette.net