A South Valley banker who was accused of stealing $60,000 from her credit union customers to spend on TikTok has pleaded guilty.
Federal authorities accused Esther Olson, 49 of Hanford, of making several unauthorized withdrawals from customers — reported by Credit Union Times as the Tulare branch of Educational Employees Credit Union. Olson had been an employee since 2005 and was promoted to assistant branch manager in 2019.
An FBI agent believed Olson stole the money to promote her TikTok account with thousands of followers, and to send money to her boyfriend.
Bank records examined by the FBI showed Olson spent the money on the social media site. Through TikTok, she met and dated a Texas man. She allegedly sent him “thousands of dollars and visited Texas on several occasions,” using cash she stole from victims’ accounts, the criminal complaint said.
As a result of a plea deal Olson pleaded guilty in federal court Monday to one count of embezzlement. She also agreed to pay restitution up to $65,000.
Her sentencing — up to 30 years in prison — will be up to Judge Ana de Alba and is scheduled for March 4, 2024.
Olson declined to comment through a representative.
Stole From Four Victims
In the federal criminal complaint, a customer became suspicious in September 2022 and contacted the bank about unauthorized cash withdrawals totaling $35,000. There were three other victims.
When confronted by bank officials about why customers would withdraw so much, Olson claimed one of the victims said she was remodeling. Olson also told co-workers, according to the complaint, that she knew she was “done” when the credit union started investigating.
Olson quit her job in September 2022, one day after being contacted by the credit union.
The credit union contacted the FBI in November 2022 on suspicions that Olson embezzled the money from June through August 2022. The FBI arrested Olson in May 2023.