Fighting fraud, building trust

Steve Timmons digs deep to root out fraud.

August 21, 2019

When a single mother of two was victimized by a secret shopper scam while trying to make ends meet, Steve Timmons took the case personally.

“It really got under my skin,” Timmons says. “Fraud anywhere irritates me, but this really bothered me. She was a member of the credit union trying to earn some extra income for her family and ended up involved in a scam. I dug deep and hard on this one.”

The woman was coaxed into buying Apple iTunes gift cards as a “secret shopper” after fraudsters had issued her a worthless check. She then was instructed to send the activation numbers to the fraudsters.

Timmons, fraud coordinator at $778 million asset VSECU, contacted Apple and was able to recover $1,200 for the member.

The Montpelier, Vt.-based credit union was also confronted with a case in which a business owner was victimized for tens of thousands of dollars in an email fraud case.

The fraudster, posing as a business associate, had the victim wire the money to a bank in the southeast. Timmons moved quickly and was able reach out to that institution and have it place a hold on over $60,000 of the funds, which he was able to recover for the member.

“It takes time to do research and talk to the member to get the story behind the fraud, but you have to act quickly,” Timmons says.

Listen to a CUNA News Podcast with Steve Timmons.

Tom White, who works with Timmons at VSECU, says Timmons is dogged in pursuing fraud cases. “Steve doesn’t let the dollars motivate him,” says White. “He cares about what’s right—what’s right for our members and for this credit union.”

Timmons also spends a good deal of time data-mining credit union records for signs of potential fraud.

“Fraud comes in so many forms these days,” he says. “It’s our responsibility to quickly identify fraud committed against our members and this institution through the use of data from multiple systems.”

One of his biggest job satisfactions is protecting members from being swindled.

“It gives you a sense of pride that you can make a difference in people’s lives by the work that you do every day,” Timmons adds.

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