A glimpse at the cheer worthy, jeer worthy, and tear worthy stories for the week of March 22, 2010.
The more than 33,000 Memphis households that do not have a checking or savings account may soon have better alternatives to payday lenders. According to a Memphis Daily News article, Mayor A C Wharton Jr. is leading a call to credit unions and banks to reach out to the city’s un(der)banked population. The mayor is asking financial intuitions to offer low-cost consumer products in the hopes that those without a deposit account or credit card will turn to these institutions instead of alternative lenders. This partnership between the city and its financial institutions is especially important as high rates of foreclosure and bankruptcies in the area drive those living paycheck-to-paycheck to seek the services of high-interest, short-term credit providers.
According to an NCUA press release, the administration placed Tracy Federal Credit Union ($26M, Tracy, CA) into conservatorship on March 19. Despite the action, the credit union remains open for business as usual for its nearly 6,000 members; however, according to local news outlet the Tracy Press, the credit union will likely become a part of Modesto-based Valley First Credit Union ($321M, Modesto, CA). A familiar situation for more Sand State credit unions, employees were aware of the credit union’s weakness, which appears to be caused by “faulty loans.” The takeover is the first in 2010.
Police are on the lookout for a Florida woman who allegedly stole more than $200,000 from area credit unions. Officials believe 41-year-old Vanessa Rideau is the mastermind behind an elaborate identification theft and fraud ring. More than 20 arrests have already been made in the scheme that has spanned three years and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Authorities have issued an additional 21 warrants for suspects in “Operation Long Hair.” According to the Tampa ABC affiliate, Rideau paid people to open accounts at area credit unions, bought the corresponding ATM cards and PIN numbers, made fraudulent deposits into the accounts, then withdrew from them. When questioned by the institutions, the account holders claimed their cards had been stolen. Authorities are asking for information as to the whereabouts of the remaining suspects, including Rideau.