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Teamwork diligence help Texas branch nab ID thief
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (4/18/12)--Employees of River City FCU recently used teamwork, diligence and intuition to apprehend an identity theft fraudster with a full-scale operation in the San Antonio area.

A fraudster's complaints about a check-hold procedure during an account opening raised the suspicions of Derek Maldonado, right, a member service specialist at River City FCU, San Antonio. River City Branch Manager Chris Hanson, left, and his team worked with the San Antonio Police Department to apprehend the identity thief within 30 days. (Photo provided by Texas Credit Union League)
"It was a stressful, but we assigned everyone in the branch a role in the event we had the chance to act," Bitters Branch Manager Chris Hanson told the Texas Credit Union League (LoneStar Leaguer April 17).  "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."

In early March, Derek Maldonado, a member service specialist at the $154 million asset River City FCU, had a bad feeling when the fraudster complained about a check hold procedure while attempting to open an account at the credit union.  Fewer than 30 days later, Maldonado's instincts led to the arrest of an identity thief and fraudster.

Maldonado mentioned the member's comments to Hanson, who shared the information with the branch team. When the check was returned due to an unidentifiable account, the team members believed they had seen the last of the member.

However, two weeks later the suspect applied for a loan online. The loan application generated a credit report that showed a fraud alert with a verification phone number. 

The person Hanson called to verify the account said his identity had been stolen, and that he had an active case with the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) due to the perpetrator's acts of fraud and forgery using his name. 

Also, a branch employee who recently joined River City FCU from another local financial institution realized the same man had created a loss for the previous employer. This information was reported to SAPD.

Hanson and his team worked out a plan to contact police while the perpetrator arrived at the branch to close on the loan. The individual walked out of the scheduled loan closing after becoming restless. The police just missed him. 

A week later, the perpetrator returned unannounced to close on the loan. Again, credit union staff called police. After he walked out again, a teller noticed him parking across the street. When police arrived, he was apprehended attempting to flee.

"If we had not discussed this in advance, the arrest could not have happened so quickly," Hanson said. "We all had phone numbers, license plates, and a visual ID on this person. 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."
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