SANTA ANA, California – A former Orange County-based bank manager pleaded guilty today to a federal criminal charge for stealing $1.2 million in savings from elderly customers by using one the victims’ identities to fraudulently open a bank account, then impersonating the victim to transfer the stolen money to different bank accounts.
Lana Pothos, 59, of Anaheim, pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud, a crime that carries a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison.
According to her plea agreement, during the summer of 2020, Pothos – who worked as a relationship manager at a Bank of America branch in Yorba Linda – and an accomplice worked together to steal the savings of approximately $1.2 million from two married senior citizen clients who shared an account with the bank.
In June 2020, Pothos used one victim’s personal identifiable information to create an online banking profile for the victim without the victim’s knowledge or permission. Using Bank of America’s internal computer system, Pothos then changed the victims’ mailing address to a hair salon in Yorba Linda that Pothos frequented and also changed their telephone number to a phone number she used. Using that phone number, Pothos called the bank several times while impersonating one of the victims. In July 2020, Pothos’ co-schemer opened a new bank account and email address in one victim’s name.
On seven occasions from July 2020 to October 2020, approximately $1,212,144 was transferred out of the victims’ bank account into the fraudulently opened account Pothos and her accomplice controlled, then transferred again to an account used by the co-schemer at a different bank. The stolen money was then used for personal expenses, including $47,000 that was transferred to a Pothos-controlled entity.
United States District Judge Cormac J. Carney scheduled a July 10 sentencing hearing in this case.
Theron Fox, 49, of Tustin, Pothos’ alleged co-schemer, is charged with five counts of bank fraud and two counts of aggravated identity theft. Fox is scheduled to go to trial on February 7.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The FBI investigated this matter.
Assistant United States Attorney Charles E. Pell of the Santa Ana Branch Office is prosecuting this case.