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McKinney woman’s life turned upside down: losses from death, flood, and scam

What is a bank teller’s role in scam prevention? And what happens when they fail?

You work your whole life to get ahead. Stash away enough money for your house, your family, your vacations.

But then, as they say, life happens.

Rubino Maxwell, an 81-year-old retiree from McKinney, led a life for which she was proud. She was one of the first Black registered nurses at what was once called Plano General Hospital. Her nursing career lasted more than four decades.


But then she got socked with a triple whammy of disasters.

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First her husband of 50 years died in August 2020. During COVID-19, there was no proper funeral.

Then her house, despite her diligence, flooded during the February 2021 freezeout. It’s yet to be repaired.


And then came the scam.

Weakened by all that, when the scammers contacted her, they promised her government grants to help rebuild her home. She remembers being impressed by the U.S. government logo on the website. She bit.

For the next nine months it was like a part-time job. As ordered by her handler, she’d go to Prosperity Bank on Eldorado Parkway and take out cash and go to a store that sold gift cards. Then the scammers would ask her to read off the numbers.


“Once you give them the card numbers, the money is gone,” explains McKinney police detective Nathan Underwood, who is handling the case.

Gone is $86,000 in Maxwell’s savings.

Her daughter, Christina Voss, is fighting for her, filing complaints with law enforcement and bank regulators. But the frustration is overwhelming both of them. Their anger at the bank involved is deep and long lasting.

Tellers’ fault?

Being a bank teller these days means more than cashing checks and taking deposits.


In the age of scams, the phrase “relationship banking” should be more than knowing a customer’s name. The best tellers can tell when something is wrong.

If an elderly person comes in and over the course of several months extracts thousands of dollars in cash to convert to gift cards to send to scammers, the true teller is supposed to, well, tell on them.

Under a 4-year-old state law, bank staffers can stop a transaction if they’re suspicious. The law gives them permission to call the customer’s family and bans any lawsuits against banks for stopping transactions.

But what happens when tellers don’t tell? In Maxwell’s case, it’s the astounding loss of $86,000. It’s difficult to believe no one could save her.


The McKinney detective said he doubts the crooks will ever get caught.

Christina Voss (left) is fighting on behalf of her mother Rubino Maxwell, an elderly scam victim who lost about $86,000 from her Prosperity Bank account and must now live with her daughter. (Juan Figueroa / Staff Photographer)

From what I can tell, Prosperity Bank takes no responsibility. At least for Maxwell, Prosperity is not living up to its name.

Prosperity Bank executives declined to talk about Maxwell's case.(Dave Lieber)

This can happen to anybody at any time. You know those scam phone calls you get almost every day? This is where they often lead.

State law

Texas law for this also applies to investment advisors, credit unions and sellers of securities. Along with banks, they are required to report any actions related to this to government authorities.

When I asked Maxwell if any Prosperity bankers tried to stop her, she said no one did.


In retrospect, she asked, “Couldn’t a single person at the bank look at that paper and say ‘What is this person doing? She never did this before.’”

The Watchdog spent much of a week trying to get someone from Prosperity to talk to me. Maxwell gave me a letter to present to the bank, waiving her privacy so the bank could answer The Watchdog’s questions.

Finally, before giving up, I drove to a Prosperity Bank near my house. In the drive-through lane, I placed my request letter in the tube leading to the indoor teller. On the intercom, I asked her to send my note to bank executives.


Several hours later, Aaron Shelby, D-FW area president for the bank, sent the following email:

“In regards to your inquiries regarding Ms. Rubino Maxwell, Prosperity Bank is not at liberty to discuss client financial details with outside parties due to financial privacy laws and regulations.”

He declined to accept Maxwell’s privacy waiver.

Didn’t tell kin

Maxwell didn’t tell her daughter about the scam until it was too late. When Voss visited the bank to complain on her mother’s behalf, bank staffers offered several solutions: the mother could take out a home improvement loan; the daughter could take out a second mortgage to aid her mother, or they could seek help from Habitat for Humanity.


Voss said she was shocked to see that her mother sometimes made several large withdrawals in the same day. This went on for nine months. Why didn’t that trigger an alert?

Voss showed me an e-mail from a bank executive which said, “The banking center states they questioned your mother on the withdrawals. However, if the customer insists on the withdrawal, there is nothing we can do.”

Maxwell’s situation is worsened by the $130,000 she still owes on the mortgage for her uninhabitable home. The $86,000 the scammers took were insurance proceeds.

For now, Maxwell is sleeping in a makeshift bedroom in her daughter’s living room. She doesn’t do stairs. She stores her files on the dining room table and keeps her clothes in the garage.


Maxwell describes herself as a people person. “All I want to do is help people.” Now the retired nurse is the one that needs help.

Christina Voss’ living room is turned into a bedroom because her mother lost money to rebuild her home to scammers and has no place to go.(Juan Figueroa / Staff Photographer)

How to avoid this

McKinney detective Underwood calls this “a growing problem, mostly because it’s so easy.”


He advises adult children to get more involved in their elderly parents’ financial doings.

As for Maxwell, yeah, she’s broke. But she’s still standing.

Rubino Maxwell poses in what used to be her home’s living room. Maxwell was repairing her home after a pipe burst during 2021’s winter storm Uri when she was scammed into withdrawing about $86,000 from her Prosperity Bank account. (Juan Figueroa / Staff Photographer)

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The Dallas Morning News Watchdog column is the 2019 winner of the top prize for column writing from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. The contest judge called his winning entries “models of suspenseful storytelling and public service.”

Read his winning columns:

* Helping the widow of Officer J.D. Tippit, the Dallas police officer killed by Lee Harvey Oswald, get buried beside her late husband


* Helping a waitress who was harmed by an unscrupulous used car dealer