Charity and online shopping scams threaten holiday season

Charity donations and online shopping scams are prevalent throughout the year, but never more than during the winter holidays. Many have no idea about the trouble they may encounter during this festive season.


With many widespread publicized fundraising drives, charities often count on holiday season boosts to help support their causes. However, not everyone asking for help is genuine. Representatives from any organization should be able to talk about their cause — and are often excited to share more information about their mission.

To ensure that donations are going to the right place, ask the following:

  • Who are you?
  • What do you do?
  • How will you use my donation?
  • Is my donation tax deductible?
  • Are you registered with the appropriate agencies?

Research any organization or cause you wish to donate to on your own. These organizations show how a charity spends donations and conducts business:

Be aware of red flags that include:

  • Time constraints. High-pressure or rushed donations should be avoided.
  • Names. Fraudsters may use names that sound similar to real charities and look-alike logos.
  • Vagueness. Make sure you know how your donation will be used to further the cause.
  • Payment requirements. Requesting donations in gift cards or through wire transfers should be regarded as suspicious.


Fraudsters rely on the volume of transactions to take advantage of unsuspecting consumers during the holiday season. The FTC has stated, “Overall, reports of losses to online shopping fraud by older adults more than doubled in 2020, and the numbers continued to be far higher than pre-pandemic levels in the first half of 2021.” There is no indication of this increase of fraud stopping any time soon.

Remember these online shopping tips:

  • Research. Look up any suspicious company names with the keywords “scam,” “complaint” or “review.”
  • Look for a physical address and phone number. If you have questions or problems, you’ll have a way to directly contact the company.
  • Familiarize yourself with shipping and return policies. Who pays for return shipping? How many days do you have to return an item? Is there a restocking fee? Can sale items be returned?
  • Pay with credit card. Paying by credit card offers recourse for overbilling, merchandise not received or returned items. You can file a dispute with the card issuer if there are problems. Also, do not purchase anything from online sellers that only accept payment by gift cards, money transfers or cryptocurrency. These types of payments are nearly impossible to trace and reverse.
  • Read the site’s privacy policy. You should be able to find the personal information the site is collecting, why and how it will be used. If a privacy policy is unavailable, hard to understand or disagreeable, consider using a different site.

You may recognize red flags of fraud while shopping online, but your family and friends may not. Reminders to not respond to viral posts that innocuously ask about things like birthdays, addresses, pets and children — go a long way in keeping loved ones aware and safe. Sharing basic anti-fraud tips may save them time, money and heartache.

Don’t leave anyone out in the cold this holiday season.


The Village Bank Helps Sponsor Annual Holiday Gift Drive in Newton

The Village Bank has partnered with the Newton Rotary and the City of Newton Department of Health and Human Services to sponsor the City’s annual Holiday Gift Drive. This year will mark the 14th consecutive year the Bank has sponsored the event created to help make the holidays brighter for local children.

For the drive, the Bank invites its customers, neighbors, and other members of the Newton community to drop off new and unwrapped gifts during November 15 – December 13 to any Newton branch of The Village Bank. Gifts should be for children ages newborn to 10 and may include age-appropriate toys, games, electronics, and sporting goods as well as gift cards from local merchants. Tax-deductible cash donations to the Newton Rotary are also welcome.

“As we continue to adjust to the new ‘normal’, we understand the impact the pandemic continues to have on many families. In collaboration with our incredible community providers, The Village Bank is proud to help deliver gifts and spread some holiday cheer to local families this holiday season,” said Joseph A. De Vito, president, and CEO.



The Village Bank sponsors annual “Warm Winter Wishes” drive to help homeless families and adults

The Village Bank has partnered with Middlesex Human Services Agency for the seventh annual Warm Winter Wishes drive to help local homeless families and individuals. During November 15 – December 20, The Village Bank will accept donations of new hats, scarves, gloves, mittens, socks, and other warm winter gear for adults and children who benefit from Middlesex Human Services Agency’s services. Donations may be dropped off at The Village Bank in Wayland located at 62 Boston Post Road.

Located in Waltham, Middlesex Human Services Agency provides community-based shelter, nutrition, and recovery programs throughout Greater Boston to individuals and families in need, along with life skills for self-sufficiency to end homelessness, hunger, and addiction. The agency operates Mary’s House and Bristol Lodge, both located in Waltham, as well as several other locations in the area.

“The winter season is a difficult time of year for those impacted by homelessness. We are proud to continue our tradition of sponsoring the Warm Winter Wishes drive and are delighted to support Middlesex Human Services Agency this year, “ said Joseph De Vito, president, and CEO of The Village Bank. “We extend an invitation to other organizations and members of the community to join us in providing donations.”



The Village Bank to support Newton businesses on Small Business Saturday

Joseph A. De Vito, president & CEO of The Village Bank, announced today an initiative to help support businesses in Newton during Small Business Saturday, which will be held November 27, 2021. As part of this support, the Bank will pay for parking on all meters in Newton to encourage patronage of Newton-based businesses.

Created in 2010 to support local businesses during the busiest shopping season of the year, Small Business Saturday is held every year on the Saturday following Thanksgiving.

“As a community bank, The Village Bank understands how important local businesses are to our communities,” De Vito said. “Our goal is to not only encourage members of the community to support businesses, but also to help businesses make the most of the selling season.”


The Village Bank promotes Tapponi to West Newton Branch Manager

Joseph De Vito, president and CEO of The Village Bank, has announced the promotion of Ghazwan Tapponi to manager of the West Newton branch.

Tapponi joined The Village Bank’s retail team in January 2018 and quickly made an impact. He was promoted several times in the next two years, and in August 2020, he transferred to assistant branch manager at the Newtonville location, where he worked until his most recent promotion.

Tapponi will oversee the daily operation in West Newton. He completed the bank’s Supervisor Training Program in October 2019. In December 2020, he completed the manager training program with the Massachusetts Bankers Association. Tapponi holds a degree in information technology from Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, Iraq.


The Village Bank announces officer promotions

At The Village Bank’s annual meeting held in September, president and CEO Joseph De Vito announced the following officer promotions:

Gernette Wright was promoted to vice president. Wright joined The Village Bank in March 2020 as assistant vice president/information security officer. He previously was the information systems and technology manager for Dentsply Sirona in Waltham and the senior manager/IT infrastructure and security operations for CIRCOR International in Burlington. Gernette holds a degree in computer science and information systems from Stockton University in Galloway Township, N.J. He also holds a graduate certificate in cybersecurity from the Van Loan School-Endicott College, as well as an executive certificate in management and leadership from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Carlos Batista was promoted to assistant treasurer. He joined The Village Bank in April 2008 as a teller at the Waban branch. In July 2012, he was chosen to enter the Bank’s management training program. Upon completion, he was promoted to credit analyst. Batista was promoted to senior credit analyst and then to commercial loan portfolio manager in July 2018. He holds a degree in management from UMass-Boston as well as a certificate in commercial lending from the Center for Financial Training. He also is a graduate of the New England School of Financial Studies.

Alyssa D’Amore was promoted to assistant treasurer. D’Amore joined The Village Bank in June 2011 as a teller. She was promoted to senior teller at the Newton Highlands branch in June 2013, and to teller supervisor in June 2014. In August 2017, she was promoted to assistant branch manager in Newton Highlands, and in May 2019, she transferred to the Newtonville branch in the same role. In August 2020, D’Amore returned to Newton Highlands and was promoted to branch manager. She received a branch manager certificate from the Massachusetts Bankers Association in June 2019.

Christina Hacsunda was promoted to assistant treasurer. Hacsunda joined The Village Bank in April 2012 as a floating teller/customer service representative. In July 2013, she was promoted to customer service representative at the Auburndale branch, and to assistant branch manager in February 2015. In May 2017, she transferred to the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) department in the new role of BSA specialist, and in February 2019, she was promoted to BSA analyst. She then was promoted to senior risk analyst in June 2020. Hacsunda holds an associate’s degree in paralegal studies from MassBay Community College and received her CAMS (certified anti-money laundering specialist) certificate in February 2019.

Richard Halstead was promoted to assistant treasurer. Halstead joined The Village Bank in August 2008 as network administrator. He previously worked as a senior network administrator for Grafton Suburban Credit Union in North Grafton and as a senior server engineer for in Maynard. Richard holds a natural sciences degree from Harvard Extension School and is a Microsoft certified systems engineer.

Brian Harris was promoted to assistant treasurer. Harris joined The Village Bank in January 2016 as an information security administrator. In August 2020, he was promoted to Information Technology (IT) risk manager. He previously was an IT consultant for Fincorp Inc. in Northborough. He also held the positions of IT senior software analyst at Intel Massachusetts and information systems principal specialist and consultant for Digital Equipment Corp. in Hudson. Harris holds a degree in physics from Bates College in Lewiston Maine.

Noelle Wise was promoted to assistant treasurer. Wise joined The Village Bank in January 2017 as loan servicing manager. She previously worked as a senior loan servicing representative at Mutual One Bank and as a loan servicing supervisor at The Cooperative Bank. She has studied business and accounting at the University of Phoenix and completed The Village Bank’s manager training series in December 2019.


The Village Bank announces Lending Team promotions

At The Village Bank’s annual meeting held in September, president and CEO Joseph De Vito announced the following promotions within the Lending Team:

Andrew Franklin, who joined The Village Bank in 2003, will assume the new title of senior vice president/chief lending officer. As a member of the senior management team, Franklin will continue to manage the strategic direction of all commercial, residential and consumer lending activities of the Bank including origination, underwriting and servicing, as well as customer relations and portfolio management. Franklin previously held the position of senior vice president/lending.

David Pennybaker Jr. was promoted to senior vice president. He will oversee the strategic direction of all commercial lending operations. Pennybaker joined The Village Bank in November 2011 as a commercial lender. In July 2012 he was promoted to assistant vice president/commercial loan officer and in May 2014 to vice president/commercial loan officer. Before joining The Village Bank, he worked as a commercial relationship manager for Wainwright Bank and Trust in Boston, and as an assistant vice president/commercial relationship manager for Brookline Bank. He holds a degree in business management from Suffolk University.

Joe Barone was promoted to vice president. Barone joined The Village Bank in July 2013 as assistant vice president/commercial loan officer. Barone previously held the positions of vice president, commercial and industrial loan officer at Columbia Bank in Fairlawn, N.J.; and private business banker at First Republic Bank in Boston. Joe holds an MBA in finance from Rutgers Graduate School of Management in Newark, N.J.

Bob Dolan was promoted to vice president. Dolan joined The Village Bank in March 2020 as assistant vice president/commercial loan officer. He previously was vice president/commercial lending for TD BankNorth and for Lowell Five, as well as a client executive for Fred C. Church. He holds a degree in finance from Merrimack College in North Andover.

Katherine Herrick was promoted to vice president. Herrick joined The Village Bank in May 2005 as quality control coordinator in the lending department. She rejoined the Bank in June 2007 as commercial loan portfolio assistant. In August 2011, Herrick was promoted to credit analyst, and in February 2015 to assistant treasurer/commercial loan officer. In May 2018, she received a promotion to assistant vice president/commercial loan officer. She is a graduate of Providence College and in December 2019 completed the Bank’s Leadership Academy Program.

John Tarpinian was promoted to vice president. Tarpinian joined The Village Bank in February 2009 as senior credit analyst. In August 2011, he was promoted to business banking officer, and in January 2015 to assistant vice president/commercial loan officer. He previously worked as a commercial credit analyst for Stoneham Bank and as a business loan officer for Branch Banking and Trust in Washington. Tarpinian holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Salem State University and a master’s degree from Boston University.


Gittens elected to Village Bank Board of Directors

The Village Bank Chairman Kenneth C. Brennan has announced the election of Donna Latson Gittens, MBA, of Dorchester to the Board of Directors.

“We are extremely excited to have someone of Donna’s experience, knowledge, and community commitment join the Board of Directors,” Brennan said. “We welcome her aboard and look forward to her contributions to the continued success of our organization.”

Gittens is the founder and chief executive officer of MORE Advertising in Watertown, a women-founded and women-led firm focused on mission-based and cause-related marketing. Before founding MORE in 1997, she worked at WCVB-TV in Needham, where she held positions of vice president and director of community relations.

Gittens is a graduate of Cathedral High School and Park University in Kansas City. She did her graduate work at Northeastern University, where she received an MBA. She has earned numerous awards and achievements throughout her career, including the first annual Most Valuable Diverse Partner award from the Boston Red Sox and Major League Baseball and the Pinnacle Award for Entrepreneurship from the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. She holds an honorary degree from Elms College.

Gittens is a frequent guest speaker at symposia, meetings and conferences on topics ranging from entrepreneurship to health communications and community issues. She is on the executive committee for the Associated Industries of Massachusetts and is a member of the Massachusetts Marketing Partnership and Massachusetts Women’s Forum.

“It is an honor to add Donna Gittens to our talented group of directors,” Village Bank president and CEO Joseph A. De Vito said. “Her experience and dedication to the community make her a perfect fit for the Bank and its mission.”


The Village Bank awards $66,000 in scholarships to Class of 2021 students

Joseph A. De Vito, president & CEO of The Village Bank announced today that the Auburndale Community Charitable Foundation has awarded scholarships totaling $66,000 to 25 local students.

Clara Gross of Newton North High School and Meredith Prince of Wayland High School each received a $10,000 scholarship. Both were selected for their academic achievement and for taking a leadership role in community and charitable causes.

In addition, 23 students from local high schools were awarded $2,000 scholarships, including:

Abigail Arndt – Newton South High School
James Babcock – Arlington Catholic High School
Adriana Cedrone – Newton North High School
Alexa Cerone – Newton North High School
Dante D’Antonio – Walnut Hill School for the Arts
Ava DeNucci – Newton North High School
Christopher DiSciullo – Boston College High School
Abigail Ferraro – Waltham High School
Noah Heinstein – Newton North High School
Liam Henley – Wayland High School
Megan Innis – Framingham High School
Michael Leary – Newton North High School
Michael Lee – St. Sebastian’s School
Anthony Mastroianni – Waltham High School
Christopher Mastroianni – Waltham High School
Aidan McCarthy – Newton South High School
Claire Nye – Ursuline Academy
Romina Paola – Newton North High School
Giuseppe Presti – Catholic Memorial School
Grace Tourtelotte – Newton South High School
John Tramontozzi – North Reading High School
Mark Tramontozzi – North Reading High School
Michael Yerardi – Newton North High School

“We’re delighted to not only continue our tradition of recognizing the achievements of local students, but also to expand our giving to award 25 scholarships this year,” said De Vito.

Since its inception in 1998, The Auburndale Community Charitable has awarded more than $900,000 in scholarships. The scholarships are funded in part by the Bank’s Annual Golf Classic held each fall.


Welcome back!

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a time of uncertainty and separation, in the banking industry and around the world. After more than a year of social distancing and capacity limits, we are onto better days. Massachusetts relaxed all remaining COVID-19 restrictions on May 29, and everyone at The Village Bank is proud to say:

Welcome back!

The Village Bank, like many other banks during the pandemic, has been intensely focused on helping our customers remotely. We have steered customers to our website, our Customer Care Center and to Village Online Banking, our digital platform. And while we will continue to build and enhance these options (click here to enroll in Village Online Banking), we are seeing a resurgence in foot traffic at our branches.

As a community bank, this is music to our ears. We love seeing our valued customers back at the branches in person and encourage you to come in and visit us. We’ve missed you, and we’ve missed seeing your faces! Face coverings no longer are required for customers or employees at our branches. Those who wish to wear face coverings are welcome to wear them. We want you to be as comfortable as possible.

At The Village Bank, the safety and service of our customers, community members and team members continue to be top priority. Here are some other reminders about what you’ll see in our branches:

  • Plexiglass dividers will remain in place at each teller window and in each platform office.
  • Hand sanitizer will be available in all branches, and nanoseptic skins will remain on high-touch surfaces.
  • Floor stickers have been removed, and social distancing protocols no longer are in place.
  • Transactions slips are now available in check-writing desks for customer usage.
  • Chairs have been placed back into lobbies.
  • Coffee stations, computer kiosks and business tables will remain unavailable for the time being.

And perhaps most importantly, lollipops are available in all branches!

For the safety of all, we still ask you to refrain from coming into our branches if you have symptoms of COVID-19. Otherwise, welcome back to The Village Bank. We are so happy to see you again, and we are ready to help with all your banking needs.

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