Aware staff at the 14,000-member, $153 million River City Credit Union in San Antonio were able to prevent a case of possible fraud and help police capture the alleged identity thief.
“It was a stressful event, but we had assigned everyone in the branch a role in the event we had the chance to act,” said Chris Hanson, a manager at the Texas credit union’s Bitters Branch. “There were no questions about what to do when it happened. We just went to work, because we knew this person would keep trying to cause losses.”
River City member service specialist Derek Maldonado was the first to become suspicious when a new member tried to make a withdrawal against a check they used to open their account and became upset when told the credit union places a hold against such checks. His concern was validated when the check came back as from an unidentified account and the credit union supposed it would not see the member again.
But then the member applied for a loan online and this generated a credit report that showed a fraud alert with a verification phone number. The person receiving a verification call reported that his identity had been stolen, and that he had an active case with the San Antonio Police Department due to the perpetrator’s acts of fraud and forgery using his name.
In addition, a new branch staff member joining from another local financial institution realized that the same person had created a loss for his prior employer, and this information was reported to SAPD.
Hanson and his team worked out a plan to contact police while the perpetrator came in to close on the loan. The individual walked out of a scheduled loan closing after becoming restless, just missing the police. He returned unannounced to close on the loan a week later, and again staff called police. After he walked out again, a teller noticed him parking across the street to watch the branch. When police arrived, Hanson pointed out the individual to them. He was apprehended attempting to flee.
“If we had not discussed this in advance, the arrest could not have happened so quickly. We all had phone numbers, license plates, and a visual ID on this person,” explained Hanson. “The only variable we had was how this person would respond, but because we stayed focused, we were able to put this person behind bars. Now his victim has a chance to clear his name.”