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Eight accused in scam against CU in Florida
TAMPA, Fla. (2/20/08)--Eight Florida people are accused of running a scam that bilked reportedly more than $90,000 out of Suncoast Schools FCU. Three have been arrested and one turned herself in to authorities. The arrest followed a lengthy investigation into a complicated fraud scheme that targeted the $5.8 billion asset, Tampa-based credit union and several of its branches ( News-press.com Feb. 19). The scam involved a member opening a legitimate account at the credit union. Then a partner would deposit a fraudulent or stolen check into the account and immediately withdraw money from that account with the accountholder’s debit card. The two would split the proceeds. When the credit union discovered the check was stolen or fake, the accountholder would claim the debit card was lost or stolen. “We are actively working with law enforcement on this case, and we have a no-fraud tolerance policy,” Melva McKay-Bass, Suncoast senior vice president of member service operations, told News Now. “We are taking this case extremely seriously and have a great relationship with local law enforcement. We have a highly trained staff diligently working to close this case. We have been working on this case for almost two years.” Because of the ongoing investigation, she could not verify the amount stolen from the credit union, McKay-Bass said. Kimberley Denise Neal, 22, surrendered to authorities Monday night, said the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. She is charged with one count of scheming to defraud more than $50,000, a first degree felony, and one count of conspiracy to commit a scheme to defraud more than $50,000, a second degree felony. State investigators arrested three others Friday, and are looking for four more suspects. Arrested were: Klesha Day, 19, Cape Coral; Tequila Marie Ferguson, 19, Fort Meyers; and Farrah Shaneka Sturgis, 26, Jacksonville. Each was charged with scheming to defraud more than $50,000 from the credit union--a first degree felony with a maximum 30-year sentence. Warrants are still out for the four other suspects: Sonya Lavette Wilbon, 30, and Yolanda Kendrick, 30, both of Lee County; Joseph Lamar Temple, 18, Lakeland; and Bobby Gandy 31, who is serving a term in a Florida prison on an unrelated charge.


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