Money taken from woman's bank account without her knowledge

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PHOENIX -- A Valley woman says $22,000 was swiped from her bank account without her knowledge and you'll never believe who took the money.

Now you see it, now you don't. That's how Cecilia Bonilla felt when one moment she had a lot of money in her bank account and the next time she checked, it was gone

Bonilla, 76, clearly remembers the terrifying car accident she was in nearly two years ago, an accident her daughter, Kina, says she nearly didn't make it out of alive.

"She was pretty bad," Kina said. "I had to take care of her for six months."

Cecilia recovered and recently obtained a $22,000 settlement, money she put in her bank account for safe keeping.

"I was trying to take very good care of it for emergencies," Cecilia said. "All of a sudden this happens and I wake up the next morning and I have no money."

Somehow when Kina says she was checking her mom's bank account online she realized that $22,000 had been wiped out -- taken.

"I was shocked, but honestly I was thinking it was fraud, like someone went into her account and stole it," Kina said. "So I was like, OK, it's protected, she'll get her money back."

Kina called Bank of America but couldn't get any answers. So she went into a bank branch in Chandler and was shocked to find out it wasn't fraud at all. It was actually Bank of America that tapped into Cecelia's account and took all that money.


"Recently my brother got ill and wasn't able to pay one of his credit cards, which we didn't know," Kina said.

And that's the problem. Kina and her brother are listed on their mother's bank account and when her brother was late on a credit card bill, Bank of America raided his mom's account.

"The credit card was only in my brother's name, not linked to her account," Kina said.

"Why are you doing this to my mom? Kina asked. "It wasn't her debt. You're making it her debt."

"That was my life's savings," Cecilia said.

With nowhere to turn, the family contacted 3 On Your Side.

Bank of America tells 3 On Your Side that legally they are allowed to seize the money because Cecelia's son is listed on both accounts.

Regardless, after we checked into the matter, Bank of America decided to put the $22,000 back in Cecilia's account.

"I am so excited and happy for my mom and, Channel 3, I can't even thank you enough for what you guys did for us," Kina said. "It saved us a big heartache."

"I am so grateful it turned out the way it did and I thank you very much, from the bottom of my heart," Cecilia said.

Bank of America maintains they're not doing anything underhanded and say you are made aware of their policy when you open a bank account.

Regardless, thank you to Bank of America for returning the money.