Thursday, December 28, 2017

Guest Post: Ken Mixon - Texas Banker/Oklahoma Hunter

New Dodge Pickup

Years ago, we had a customer named Rita. Rita was eighty two and was worth about two million dollars.

We were pretty surprised at the bank when we found out she had picked Bill for a boyfriend. Bill was fifty one, but as my father would say, it was a hard fifty one. He did not have two dimes to rub together for a net worth. If you had seen him hitching a ride on a train, you would have not been surprised. He seemed a strange match for Rita.

After Rita and Bill had been dating about nine months, we discovered that they had married. At first, we were concerned that Bill had married Rita just for her money. But we found out that Rita had made Bill sign a pre-nuptial agreement. She may have been older but she was a smart lady.

Rita added Bill to only one of her checking accounts. The account had a balance of only $10,000 and she did not add him to her other accounts at our bank which totaled over one million dollars.

About a year later, we got word at the bank that Rita had passed away. One of the more solemn things we deal with at the bank is the passing of our customers. We liked Rita and were sad to hear of her death.

Two days after Rita’s passing, there was a check presented for payment on one of her accounts for $67,453. When a customer dies, we always watch their accounts for unexpected activity. This $67,453 check was unusual. It was made out to the local Dodge dealership for the purchase of a Ram pickup. It was also dated the exact day Rita passed away (and was on one of her accounts that Bill did not sign on).

 I have been reviewing check signatures for many years. While some people may not realize it, a bank has a legal obligation to be sure that a signature on a check is genuine.    

As I examined the signature on the $67,453 check, it appeared to be Rita’s signature. However, after reviewing it in length, I decided that it was a forgery. It was a very good forgery but it was not her signature. We returned the check to the Dodge dealership unpaid.

As I expected, we received a telephone call from the dealership very quickly.  Mr. Wright, the general manager of the dealership, asked if he could meet with me as soon as possible. I agreed to meet and he was at the bank in thirty minutes.

After we greeted each other, Mr. Wright got right to business. He told me how Bill and Rita had come into the dealership and how Rita had agreed to purchase the pickup for Bill. Mr. Wright added that since Rita signed the check, the bank needed to honor the check and give him the money. I asked Mr. Wright if he was there when Bill and Rita purchased the pickup and he responded that he was not but his sales manager was there and had told him the story.

I explained that the bank had a legal obligation to determine whether Rita had signed the check and that we had determined that she had not. Mr. Wright said that was impossible since his sales manager had seen her sign the check in person.

The discussion went on like this for twenty minutes. Mr. Wright said the signature was hers and I told him that we believed it was not. He said she had signed the check in front of the sales manager and I told him I did not believe she signed the check. He was adamant that Rita had signed the check. I listened but did not change my position. In the end, he left the bank without the dealership’s money for the check.

Two days later, Mr. Wright called me and asked me if he could bring Bill in with him to talk with me. I agreed to see them. They arrived within fifteen minutes (in a brand new, bright yellow, lifted, Dodge extended cab pickup).

Mr. Wright asked Bill to tell me the story of purchasing the truck. Bill told me the story but there was a significant change from the story I had heard two days prior. In the new version, Bill made the deal for the truck, went home and had Rita sign the check and he brought it back to the dealership.

Over the years, I have found that if you put a very straight question to someone, you may just get the truth out of them. After Bill finished the story, I waited fifteen seconds, looked Bill straight in the eye and asked him, “Did you sign her name on this check?” He looked back at me and said “Yes, I signed her signature. I have done it before in the past and the bank has never questioned me about it. “

I will always remember the look on Mr. Wright’s face at that point. He looked like someone had hit him with a right cross. Bill had admitted that the signature was an absolute forgery. This meant the dealership was not getting any money from my bank on this check ever. He and Bill left deflated.

Something tells me that dealership will be more careful in the future when they accept a check and the signer is not in front of them. The sad thing is that it appears Bill went straight to the dealership to buy this truck the moment Rita passed away. He probably had been planning this purchase for months. What a scum ball.

Ken Mixon was raised in Atoka, Oklahoma and graduated from Atoka High School in 1974. He attended Oklahoma Baptist University and graduated in 1977 with a degree in business administration. He has an extensive career in banking that began in 1977 as an auditor with First National Bank in Oklahoma City. From there he worked at a variety of different banks and concluded when he became President and CEO of City National Bank in Corsicana Texas, where he remains today.

Ken is a member of First Baptist Church in Richardson and is very proud to be a Rotary member in Corsicana. One of his biggest passions is being involved in selecting the high school senior to receive the Corsicana Rotary Scholarship each year. Ken is a big fan of the Dallas Mavericks, Dallas Cowboys, and Oklahoma Sooners. He enjoys hunting and fishing and being with family and friends.


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