Girl is suing Financial institution of Hawaii over photograph error that incorrectly recognized her as a theft suspect

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A woman is suing the Bank of Hawaii after being falsely identified as a counterfeit and theft suspect on a Honolulu CrimeStoppers television news segment based on video surveillance footage from the bank.

Sarasa Koide Coyle filed the lawsuit in the 1st District Court on June 22, demanding $ 3 million in punitive and special damages after the bank did not apologize for the mistake that caused it fear, anxiety and embarrassment until a month and a half later, according to the lawsuit .

The CrimeStoppers segment, which aired on KHON in March, was also put online and removed when the bug was discovered – but not before Koide Coyle’s photo was reposted, retweeted and distributed as a suspected criminal, “Reaching tens of thousands … if” not millions of internet and social media users worldwide, ”the lawsuit says.

The 39-year-old restaurant worker first found out about the CrimeStoppers report when a friend texted her asking, “Is that you?” Shortly after the KHON segment aired, said her attorney Andrew Stewart of the Showa law firm. He said Koide Coyle became extremely embarrassed after the incident, knowing that some of her colleagues and others had seen the report.

“Hawaii is a small place and she’s lived here for 12 years, building her reputation, that was particularly hurtful,” Stewart said. “She was in tears the first time I spoke to her. My client is devastated, especially because she is from Japan. Reputation is a big deal. “

The Bank of Hawaii described the matter as “an unfortunate human error” in an email it responded to questions from the Honolulu Star Advertiser.

“We contacted the customer immediately to apologize as soon as we learned of the situation. Under these circumstances, the Bank of Hawaii’s communication with HPD is not contestable and the bank will defend itself against these claims, ”the email said.

The Bank of Hawaii said it had received a request from HPD to help retrieve video footage related to a counterfeit investigation. “In our efforts to support HPD and work with law enforcement agencies, we released footage to HPD that we believed was his request at the time but was later found to be incorrect,” the email said .

“As soon as we became aware of the situation, we immediately informed HPD of the error and worked with HPD to successfully withdraw the footage as soon as possible.”

Honolulu CrimeStoppers Coordinator Sgt. Chris Kim said a Honolulu Police Department detective obtained the footage from the Bank of Hawaii and it was posted on the CrimeStoppers website at the KHON website just days before KHON’s weekly CrimeStoppers segment aired in late March Na Maka section published.

The Na Maka Post said the counterfeit suspect broke into the Waikiki branch of the Bank of Hawaii on Nov. 2 and presented a counterfeit check. Kim said the post was removed immediately upon learning of the bug.

Kim, who has been with CrimeStoppers since 2017, said he has never encountered a similar error.

He said the real thief was a woman, but he doesn’t know if Koide Coyle is similar to her or if the perpetrator was ever caught.

Stewart said his client believes the picture was taken on September 1 when she made a rare visit to the bank during the pandemic.

“The video wasn’t even from that day (of the crime),” Stewart said. “The bank said they sent the wrong video.”

He said Koide Coyle was “afraid to go out” after the erroneous report because she feared she would be arrested and has not been at the bank since.

Koide Coyle’s then-husband went into the house to speak to the store manager as soon as the bug was discovered, Stewart said. “You had to contact the bank,” he said. “The bank never contacted her. It took another month and a half for the bank to send a letter. “

The May 17th letter was sent by Alex Burtscher at the bank’s security office, apologizing to Koide Coyle “for the inconvenience and difficulty you may have experienced regarding the false image sent to the Honolulu Police Department” .

“We discovered that the error was due to a missed step in our verification process,” he wrote. “We take full responsibility for the mistake and are deeply ashamed of it. We have already implemented the necessary verification steps to prevent such errors in the future. “

The lawsuit alleges that the Bank of Hawaii’s actions are defamatory and that bank employees acted negligently, willfully, maliciously and with reckless indifference to the consequences of their actions.

This has damaged and will continue to damage Koide Coyle’s character and reputation, and she continues to suffer psychological agony, the lawsuit alleges.

“It’s still on the internet,” said Stewart. “It’s not completely gone. That’s the thing about the internet. Once it’s out there, it’s out there forever. “

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