Docs: High-value merchandise found at home of former bank employee charged with embezzlement

A search executed on the apartment of a former IBC bank employee charged with embezzlement lead to the discovery of over 50 items of high-value merchandise, federal documents reflect.

According to a federal document, Itzel Arlete Vega, 23, had high-value merchandise such as handbags, shoes and makeup in addition to other clothing merchandise in her apartment.

Authorities said Vega, an Hidalgo County resident, is accused of embezzling $86,582.14 from the accounts of three customers of International Bank of Commerce. The alleged thefts occurred from July 2021 through September 2021, according to a federal criminal complaint.

She worked at the Nolana IBC Bank branch at 2900 W. Expressway 83 in McAllen.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations agents based in Brownsville allege Vega began embezzling from one IBC bank customer in July 2021, where she reopened the account of a customer who had passed away and filled out a change of address form, the federal criminal complaint reads.

In a March 1 application for a search warrant for electronic devices belonging to Vega, specifically her iPhone 12 Pro Max, an agent states he knows that cellular phones and other electronic devices contain information relating to criminal activities.

“These include contact lists, ledgers, spreadsheets, documents, text messages, voice mails, photographs and other data related to criminal activities, co-conspirators, drug shipments and financial transactions,” the application states.

The application goes on to state “I know that cellular phones and electronic devices contain programmable applications that allow users to connect with the banking and financial services to conduct financial transactions and access email records that may contain information pertaining to a person’s criminal activity.”

Between July 26 and August 18, 2021, Vega made 27 transactions using the customer’s debit card totaling $2,822.68, the federal complaint states. In addition, she withdrew $7,616 from the account, according to the complaint.

When the family of the customer went to the bank to collect the money that was in the account, they were told a cashier’s check had been mailed to an address on the customer’s card, authorities said. The family told bank officials they had never received the check, the federal complaint states. Vega is accused of changing the address which was later traced to a vacant lot in Brownsville, according to authorities.

When questioned by an IBC Bank officer on Sept. 28, 2021, Vega initially said the customer’s son had requested the accounts action, authorities said. After being shown surveillance video of the ATM withdrawals, Vega stated that she falsified the account and falsely used the card, the federal complaint states. On Sept. 30, 2021, Vega provided a cashier’s check in the full amount of $10,465.05, authorities said.

A further investigation by HSI agents revealed Vega had committed the same action against two other bank customers, according to authorities. She made seven withdrawals from one account for $5,453.90, which she repaid, the federal complaint states.

In the other account, Vega allegedly conducted 230 transactions, including ATM withdrawals and purchases totaling $70,577.19, the federal complaint reflects.

Video surveillance shows Vega depositing the funds into a personal account at a PNC Bank, according to authorities.

According to the federal complaint, on Dec. 1, 2021, IBC Bank Vice President Marty Charles spoke to Vega via phone and Vega told her she had paid back the money on two of the accounts, but did not have any money in her savings account to pay back the $70,577.19 she had taken.

A warrant for Vega’s arrest was issued Feb. 16 and she was arrested Feb. 17 in McAllen.

Vega remains jailed without bond. Her next court appearance is scheduled for March 7.