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Published: Thursday, 2/7/2002

FDIC begins effort to assist bank depositors

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. has taken to newspaper advertisements, the Internet, toll-free phone numbers, and the mail to tell depositors of the failed Oakwood Deposit Bank Co. how to get their money.

The notices explain how depositors can reach the bank's new owner, how to claim deposits, and how to renew or transfer certificates of deposit. They point out that customers must claim deposits at State Bank & Trust Co. of Defiance, which took over Oakwood last weekend, within 18 months or risk losing their rights to the money.

The claims can be made by withdrawals, deposits, writing checks, or having automated payments credited to or deducted from accounts, the notices in The Blade's classified ads and elsewhere say. The ads also have instructions for creating new signature cards and informing the bank of changes of address.

The FDIC closed Oakwood bank Friday because of an alleged $40 million embezzlement by the bank's chief executive, Mark Steven Miller. It transferred deposits of the little Paulding County bank, which had offices in its hometown and in Grover Hill, to State Bank & Trust. Mr. Miller is in jail awaiting trial after confessing to the fraud.

The FDIC, which insures deposits up to $100,000 per account, has opened part of its web site for Oakwood customers. Those customers have accounts with $57.3 million in insured funds, and an additional $2.9 million above the insured limits, out of the institution's total assets of $72.3 million, according to the federal agency.

The web site, www.fdic.gov, encourages customers, especially those with deposits over the limit, to call a toll-free number, 1-877-367-2718, and speak to a claims agent. It emphasizes that all customers have immediate access to funds up to the $100,000 limit.

The Dallas office of the FDIC placed the newspaper ads, which are to be published 21 days over three months - through Feb. 12; March 6-12; and April 6-12.

Oakwood customers will get letters from State Bank & Trust, and some will get letters from the FDIC, as will the failed bank's general and trade creditors, a federal agency spokesman said.

Officials of State Bank & Trust - a subsidiary of Defiance-based Rurban Financial Corp. - are answering customer questions at the Oakwood bank: (419) 594-3333.

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