Spokane Man Credits STCU for Saving him from Scam

A recent media report shows another example of how alert credit union front-line staff and fraud prevention teams are looking out for consumers.

6/18/2019 

Jon Louis has been a widow for more than four years. When “romance” came calling from Yemen, he said he fell in love, and he was about to wire the woman the $3,000 she said she needed to get to the U.S. 

“My heart got in front of my brain,” Louis said in an on-camera interview with KREM TV. “But could I afford to potentially lose $3,000 to get the love of my life here with me? It’s thanks to Spokane Teacher’s Credit Union that I didn’t fall for it.” 

When Louis went to withdraw funds from his account, an alert STCU employee at the South Branch explainedcompassionately, that this was likely a scam. 

STCU sought no publicity for the work its team does day in and day out to protect their members, but after AARP put the word out, local media have picked up Louis’ story several times in recent months. 

“Credit unions prevent members from falling victims to scams all the time,” said Dan Hansen, STCU’s Media and Communications Manager. “Our fraud-prevention team, led by Jim Fuher, keeps our frontline aware of the latest scams. When staff see warning signs that a member is being scammed, they handle the uncomfortable discussions with compassion and understanding, helping members realize that falling for a scam has nothing to do with intelligence, but everything to do with being compassionate and trusting.” 

Frontline staff in credit unions are especially alert monitoring for potential financial abuse of elderly members. Research shows annual losses from elder abuse scams total more than $36 million.  

“It’s not unusual for our frontline staff to spot a vulnerable senior citizen who has been targeted by scam artists, and prevent them from losing money,” said Ezra Eckhardt, STCU President and CEO. “Thanks to our Fraud Prevention team for helping keep us all informed about the latest schemes to take advantage of compassionate people.” 

According to research, nearly anyone who has frequent contact with or provides service to an elderly person could abuse their finances. This could include friends, family, attorneys, or caregivers. The Northwest Credit Union Association’s Strategic Link partner Verafin, helps credit unions train staff to protect their most vulnerable members.  If your credit union needs to update its training, reach out to Jason Smith, Vice President, Strategic Resources, and he will connect you. 

Editor’s note: Read a recent story in Anthem that covers more about what credit unions in the Northwest are doing to protect their older members.