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New Zealand Bank Teller’s Gambling Addiction Leads to Theft from Customers

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Gambling addiction can have severe consequences, especially for individuals with easy access to money. This is evident in the case of a former bank teller from New Plymouth, New Zealand, who is now facing nearly ten charges for allegedly stealing money from elderly customers and people with health issues to support her gambling habit.

Identified by her initials C.G.T.T., the 28-year-old woman used to work for TSB Bank. According to a report by the New Zealand Herald, she is suspected of stealing more than NZ$28,000 (about $17,100). The majority of her victims were elderly individuals who either lacked access to online banking or had various health problems.

Her tenure at the bank lasted from May 2022 until October 2023, ending shortly before her crimes were discovered. It was found that she carefully selected her victims, targeting those who were less likely to notice the discrepancies, such as elderly people and those with cognitive issues. She faces eight charges related to dishonest use of a computer system and one charge for using a document for pecuniary advantage.

Last week, she appeared in court before Judge Gregory Hikaka. During the hearing, the judge noted the calculated nature of her crimes, highlighting that she chose victims who relied on face-to-face banking and trusted her. Judge Hikaka described her actions as “shocking and cruel,” emphasizing the vulnerability of her victims.

It’s clear that you picked your victims. Elderly, some with cognitive issues, and people who did not have online internet banking, because they preferred face-to-face contact with someone they thought they could trust —Judge Gregory Hikaka

Sam Hunt, her defense lawyer, explained that her actions stemmed from a severe gambling addiction. Hunt noted that his client has shown remorse, has no prior criminal record, and has entered a treatment program. He also mentioned that she has repaid the stolen money in full to the bank.

Despite her efforts to make amends, the gravity of her crime was not lost on Judge Hikaka. The abuse of her position and the targeting of vulnerable individuals was a significant factor in the case. Although she has been granted bail, her sentencing was postponed to September.

The investigation revealed that the total amount stolen was NZ$28,286 (around $17,300). The scheme came to light after one of her victims received a letter about funds being withdrawn from a dormant account. An internal probe by the bank showed that the thefts began on August 11. The amounts varied, with the largest sum being NZ$8,000 (approximately $4,900), which was misleadingly recorded as a transfer to a “premier” account, when in reality, the money was withdrawn.

In conclusion, this case serves as a stark reminder of the devastating impact of gambling addiction and the importance of safeguarding vulnerable individuals, especially those who rely on face-to-face banking services.


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