'I want my money'

'I want my money' »Play Video

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. -- Bette Miller may move slowly, but at 80 years old her mind is still sharp as ever.

And when it comes to getting her money, this sweet, soft-spoken woman is not about to back down.

"A $5,000 bond, you don't throw over your shoulder and forget about it," Miller said. "They seem to think they've got the upper hand, and I've got a story that beats theirs all to heck."

Bette's story starts back in 1984, when she and her husband Laurence purchased a $5,000 bond from Rainier National Bank.

They put the bond in a safe deposit box, where it stayed until 2005 when Bette moved out of her home and into an assisted living center in Port Orchard.

Rainier Bank is long gone -- sold to Security Pacific Bank in 1987, which was purchased by Bank of America in 1992.

Two years ago, Bette and her son Greg took the bond to a Bank of America branch, but the bank refused to cash it.

"I'm pretty hot about them trying to take advantage of my Mom; trying to rip her off," Greg Miller said.

Greg and his sister, Pam, have been fighting the bank ever since.

"They don't care that it's an 80-year-old woman's nest egg," said Bette's daughter, Pam Aromin. "That's not their problem at this point.''

She and Greg are continuing to fight.

"We have a contract," Greg says. "The contract is clearly stated on the face of the bond."

So, why won't Bank of America cash the bond? The bank says it doesn't have any record of the account.

Colleen Haggerty, Senior Vice President of West Coast Media Relations for Bank of America says if the bond was not paid, the money would have gone to the state's unclaimed property office.

But the bank doesn't have any records to show that.

Haggerty said the only way to find out what really happened in this case is for Bette Miller to find tax records dating back 20 years or more.

"I think they're stonewalling her," said Bette's attorney, James Jackson. He's been trying to get the bank to honor Bette's bond.

"Claiming they don't have the records, when she has the original certificate, is insufficient," he said.

Jackson says the bond is proof that Bette didn't get her money.

"The only way that she would have been able to cash the bond out was by bringing the certificate with her," he said.

Those are the rules -- printed right on the front of the bond certificate.

"Honor within 10 days following maturity date upon presentation and surrender of this Rainier Bank Bond," Jackson says, reading from the bond.

Bank of America checked with the state unclaimed property office and couldn't find the money. Neither could Jackson.

"I've run every variation of Bette Miller's name, every variation of her husband's name, I've checked under Rainier bank, Bank of America," Jackson said.

Bette says she never cashed the bond, and never received a notice from the bank saying it had been turned over to unclaimed funds. 

Bank of America spokeswoman Colleen Haggerty said the bank can't say exactly what happened to Bette's money because the bank's records only go back seven years.

"This situation may serve as a reminder to your viewers to keep close track of all their investments, especially older accounts," Haggerty said in a written statement.

Bette, however, is not giving up. Her lawyer has prepared a lawsuit, so a jury may get to decide this one.

"I'm not going away," Bette said. "I want my money."