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MADISON, Wis. – CUNA Mutual Media Relations Manager Thomas Kobinsky has been charged with identity theft. Kobinsky, 49, was arrested on Jan. 7 by the Dane County Sheriff’s Department and U.S. Secret Service agents. A complaint has been filed against him in U.S. District Court in Madison, Wisconsin on one count of identity theft, which carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison and a $1 million fine. Kobinsky is a long-time CUNA Mutual employee who spent much of his career in editorial within the company’s public relations department. About two years ago he became media relations manager. The affidavit in the case tells a rather bizarre story. It alleges that Kobinsky’s actions were spurred by an altercation following a girls’ soccer game. The victim in the case, who was not named, swore at an eight-year old girl after the girl urinated in the victim’s yard adjacent to a soccer field. This upset Kobinsky, who is a parent of one of the players. The affidavit included a vitriolic voice mail allegedly from Kobinsky to the victim. The following is an excerpt: “I didn’t think you’d be ready to apologize so we got some plans going here. It’s too bad you really said that to a bunch of eight-year old girls and their parents and their grandparents.You better plan to get a bigger mailbox..When your power gets turned off because you’re going to be moving on a Friday afternoon you can’t get it re-connected till Monday morning, that’s us. Same thing with your satellite dish. Same thing with a load of bricks that ends up at your house.Also, with one or two key strokes, and I can have a bench warrant arrested for you because I can kind of erase that fact, uh, you never paid that unsafe passing ticket back in ’96..” The affidavit states that the victim was flooded with unsolicited mail, publications, cash-on-delivery goods, and telephone calls. The victim also learned of unauthorized applications for a bank loan, credit card and online trading account taken out in his name and his spouse’s name. Many of the unsolicited magazines that came to the victim’s home had some mention of soccer on the mailing label, such as “(victim’s name), CEO, Backyard Soccer, Inc.” It was a political contribution pledged in the victim’s name that led authorities to Kobinsky. Numerous unauthorized contributions were made in the victim’s name to the Magnum for Congress campaign. Dave Magnum was a Republican candidate for Congress in Wisconsin. One pledge to the campaign in the victim’s name included a notation, “Get the f-k off my lawn. I’m calling the cops.” A campaign worker using a list of the last names of soccer players found that Kobinsky was on the campaign’s mailing list, giving investigators a link. Other links to Kobinsky included an invoice for a technical college sent to the victim. The original addressee on the envelope was crossed out and the victim’s name was inserted. Investigators later learned the person the invoice was intended for was indeed a student at the college who was interning at CUNA Mutual. The last time the intern saw the invoice was on his desk at CUNA Mutual. The victim also received some esoteric magazines that led to Kobinsky. For example, Broker World, a magazine for insurance brokers and agents. One of Kobinsky’s co-workers received Broker World at their office in CUNA Mutual. Kobinsky also tried to harm the victim’s professional career, which helped investigators. The victim is in the financial consulting business. Kobinsky e-mailed the Wisconsin State Journal an announcement for the paper’s business section that stated the victim opened Madison Financial Consultants, a full-service financial planning and licensed trust company. In that announcement, Kobinsky listed the names of the victim’s bosses and the victim’s infant child as having positions with the new company. The newspaper did not run the full phoney announcement, but did run that the victim had opened Madison Financial Consultants and listed his phone number. Investigators found a handwritten draft of the e-mail to the paper in Kobinsky’s trash. Investigators were monitoring Kobinsky’s home trash and also searched his trash at CUNA Mutual. The name of the victim, the companies he worked with as a financial consultant, a Yahoo map search to the victim’s home and other incriminating evidence were found on Kobinsky’s CUNA Mutual office computer. CUNA Mutual has suspended Kobinsky with pay, pending its own investigation. CUNA Mutual said none of its clients were affected by his actions. CUNA Mutual was cooperating with authorities during the investigation, and it said it will continue to do so. Ironically, CUNA Mutual itself offers identity theft solutions. It piloted an identity theft toolkit for members in November and in May released an identity theft toolkit for credit unions. Kobinsky did not work in his PR capacity on any of CUNA Mutual’s identity theft products or services. Kobinsky told Credit Union Times that under his attorney’s advice he can not discuss the facts of the case. According to the affidavit, Kobinsky violated two federal laws and one state law, each which deal with unlawfully using someone’s identity. Kobinsky does not belong to CUNA Mutual’s union. A union official said the union is upset that Kobinsky has been suspended with pay, when union employees have been suspended without pay for less serious infractions. [email protected]

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