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Trader Turned Bank Robber's Plan Didn't Leave Room For Rookie Mistakes, Old DUI Charges

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In 2003, Stephen Trantel lost his trading job, though he left the house "for work" every morning to keep up appearances with his wife. He couldn't find a new gig and didn't know what he was going to do. Then one day while sitting in his car, after being unemployed for over two months, it came to him.

“I was just sitting in my truck looking out the window. And I’m like: ‘I need money right now. What can I do where nobody’s gonna get hurt?’ I just came to this epiphany that there’s no other way. If I wanna hold on to everything, then I’ve got to steal money.”

He started "researching" how one goes about robbing a bank without getting caught and found out a few things, like that 80% of the people who rob banks are caught in their getaway car so he "took that out of the equation. Stephen decided to "focus on one bank at time," and "observing that most blue-collar men and cops cash their cheques on a Wednesday, avoided mid-week heists." He planned his escape route in advance and on the big day, would wear a disguise that consisted of a baseball cap, sunglasses and a fake 'stache. He'd enter the bank, identify "the weakest" teller and despite not actually having a gun, would slip him or her a note that read, “Hey, I have a gun. No funny games. No alarm.” This worked out pretty well for a while and Stephen successfully robbed 9 banks. Until he made two big mistakes.

Mistake number one: "he carelessly left a fingerprint on a note he passed to a bank teller." Mistake number two: he forgot about having a record.

Police checked their database and matched the print to a teenager who was arrested for drunk-driving back in 1984. The teenager was Stephen.

So! What have we learned today? If there's a record of your fingerprints anywhere, you'd best take extra precautions when robbing a bank. If you were arrested at Preakness ten years ago but it was expunged, you can rob banks worry-free.

My Banker Husband Was Actually A Bank Robber [Mirror via BI]


Banks Now Trying Extra Hard To Avoid Making The Rookie Mistakes That Mean Getting Caught Committing Fraud

Remember, earlier this summer, when a whole bunch of banks were sued over allegations their employees manipulated Libor? And Bob Diamond, CEO of the first, and so far only, bank to settle with regulators, lost his job, as did a bunch of his colleagues? And it was suggested that Barclays's offenses were but a drop in the bucket compared with those of UBS? And experts projected that this whole thing could cost the banks being investigated (of which there are many) tens of billions of dollars to make go away? And Nellie Diamond stopped Tweeting? As much fun as that's all been, a lot of firms would like to avoid going through it again, and to that end, have asked their compliance teams to run some workshops teaching employees how to keep things on the straight and narrow. For instance, while you might think that people would have mastered email by this point on the evolutionary chart-- specifically, that it never goes away and might be read again-- you would think wrong!  So the point is being hammered home in remedial electronic correspondence classes, particularly to those who'd previously not seen an issue with writing stuff like, "Anything for you, Big Boy" as a response to the request "Can you manipulate Libor for me today when you've a sec?" Also on the schedule-- mock happy hours with the team for members of the staff who can never seem to remember the appropriate response for when you're out at Punch Tavern and someone brings up "Holly with the cans who did me a solid by shaving 45 basis points off our submission." "Everyone is more paranoid, that's for sure," said one department head at a European investment bank, where the trading floor is festooned with posters reminding staff to report any suspicious behaviour. At his bank and at least one other European firm, executives said they were being asked to take part in an increasing number of behavioural coaching sessions, including simulations of pub outings. These were mainly done via webcasts, where participants act out conversations with colleagues where the talk turns to clients or office gossip, two bankers said. "You have to turn around and say, 'No, let's not talk about that'," said one. Culture Clean Up Follows Bankers To Bar [Reuters]

Bonus Watch '12: First Year Bank Robbers

Bonus expectations got ya down? Thinking about robbing a bank? You might want to reconsider. Not because it could be dangerous or you might go to jail or your disguise sucks but because, statistically speaking, it's not really worth your time. In terms of work put in you'd be much better off giving out hand jobs in the alley between 200 West and Shake Shack. In what’s billed as the first cost-benefit analysis of such crimes, three economists note that Britain saw 106 attempted or successful robberies of 10,500 branch banks in 2007. The average haul was $31,600, including the one-third of attempts that came up empty. The average “successful” heist landed about $46,600 — but about 20% of those successes were later tarnished, to say the least, when the raiders were arrested. Each incident involved an average of 1.6 people, resulting in a per-person take of $19,750: a mere half-years’ worth of wages for the average Britisher. (In the U.S., the authors say, the average total bank-robbery take, per incident, is even smaller, just over $4,000.) Think a half-year’s salary isn’t bad for one day’s work, plus a little planning? A “career” bank robber would more likely than not be arrested after only four attempts...“The return on an average bank robbery is, frankly, rubbish,” they write. Bank Robbery Doesn't Pay (Much) [Ideas Market/WSJ]