Police name wrong woman as suspect in alleged bank fraud

Police initially believed this surveillance photo showed a fraud suspect but later realized a bank mix-up caused confusion.

Police in Toms River, N.J. have apologized after releasing the photo of an innocent woman and naming her as a bank-fraud suspect.

A Toms River woman realized Aug. 3 that several unauthorized cash withdrawals were made from her bank account and reported it, the Toms River Police Department said Wednesday in a news release.

A detective was able to determine the transactions occurred May 21 at a TD Bank in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Police then released surveillance photographs of a woman they believed to be the suspect.

Within hours, police said, they received half a dozen phone calls identifying the woman depicted, including one call from the woman herself.

“Further investigation determined that she, in fact, is innocent and is a victim of mistaken identity, as well as careless work by the bank teller,” police said in a second news release issued Thursday.

The woman, a Poughkeepsie resident, has the exact same name as the Toms River woman originally believed to have been victimized, police said.

During two transactions at the Poughkeepsie woman’s local bank branch, a teller failed to match her to the correct account and accidentally gave her funds from the Toms River woman’s account, according to investigators.

“A simple identification or driver’s license check by the teller could have avoided this embarrassing mistake,” police said.

Police said the Poughkeepsie woman “has been very understanding” and is cooperating with law enforcement and the bank “to assure that errors such as this do not occur again in the future.”

Contact Alex Wigglesworth at 215-854-2305 or awigglesworth@philly.com. Follow @phila_lex on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.