Strategic CIO // IT Strategy
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6/28/2006
12:10 PM
Paul McDougall
Paul McDougall
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Account And Data Theft By India's Outsourcing Workers Rare Compared To In-House Thievery At U.S. Banks

That the arrest on theft charges of an HSBC employee at the bank's outsourcing operations in India made big headlines shows that hiring low-wage staff in that country for sensitive financial work must be...a pretty safe business practice. Yup, you read that right, and here's the proof.

That the arrest on theft charges of an HSBC employee at the bank's outsourcing operations in India made big headlines shows that hiring low-wage staff in that country for sensitive financial work must be...a pretty safe business practice. Yup, you read that right, and here's the proof.Outsourcing to India is controversial, so any glitch, no matter how common in the U.S., gets lots of ink. Not surprising, then, that Business Week, The New York Times, The Guardian, and other major news organizations jumped all over the HSBC story. Given this level of scrutiny, we'd expect to hear about this kind of thing all the time. But we don't, because it rarely happens. The last major incident of this sort occurred a year ago at Indian outsourcer Mphasis.

In the U.S.? Let's let local media do the talking, since the Times and company are apparently uninterested in bank fraud unless it takes place on some other continent. (By the way, the following reports cover only the current month!)

On June 3, The Facts, of Clute, Tex, reported that a former Wells Fargo employee "who pleaded guilty last month to a theft charge will be required to pay about $45,660 in restitution at $400 per month."

On June 9, WLUC TV, "Upper Michigan's News Leader", had this to say about a worker at First Bank: "A Former Ensign Township Treasurer and bank employee has pleaded guilty to two counts of embezzlement in Delta County Circuit Court. Thirty five year old Kristin Gustafson was charged with embezzling money from both the Township and First Bank." The very next day, the Jackson, Miss., Clarion-Ledger noted that "Trustmark Bank employee Astrid Warnock is accused of embezzling more than $1 million from the bank in Warren County between Jan. 1, 2002, and March 2."

Also on June 10, the Augusta Chronicle told us that one Carla Patton "stole nearly $30,000 from Wachovia, where she had worked for 13 years."

On June 15, the Boston Globe revealed this bit of skullduggery: "For five years, the Hudson bank manager quietly dipped into more than 60 customer accounts, funneling off more than $650,000 to cover his gambling habit, credit card bills, and mortgage payments."

On June 17, the Port Huron Times Herald ran the following headline about an incident at Citizens First Savings: "Bank Employee Charged in $70,000 Theft from Customer." (Someone alert BusinessWeek, they missed this one.)

Which brings us to today, June 28, and a report in the Advocate of Baton Rouge, La. "A Walker woman has agreed to plead guilty to embezzling more than $350,000 from Homestead Bank."

Did you hear about any of these incidents? Probably not--too commonplace, just not sexy enough for national media. Now if they happened in India, that's a story! What do you think?

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