Credit Union Journal: Crimedex Solution Helps Squash Fraud

December 3, 2012 | Coverage

By Aaron Passman | December 3, 2012

LAKEWOOD, Wash.-Harborstone CU was able to successfully track down a scam artist by using technology, a move that has earned it a Credit Union Journal "Best Practices" Award.

In early February, HCU was the victim in a fraud case in which a person with a non-Harborstone-issued credit card requested a $5,000 advance. The teller called the number on the back of the card to authorize it, checked the person's ID and issued the $5,000, believing the transaction to be legitimate. One week later, Harborstone received a rejection notice from the credit card company and realized it had been the victim of a scam.

Risk Management Officer Tom Southern at the $781-million credit union, was able to quickly access clear video and snapshots of the criminal's face through Harborstone's surveillance equipment from 3VR-a process that took less than an hour. Southern put the video and photos together and set up an alert on CrimeDex, an online network that connects law enforcement and businesses for the purpose of sharing criminal information.

Thirty minutes after posting the item, Southern received a call from a loss-prevention specialist at a local bank who recognized the suspect due to an earlier fraud attempt there. That, in turn, led to a connection with a detective in Fremont, Calif., and within two days the perpetrator had been identified and arrested.

"This was literally the first time I had put anything into CrimeDex," Southern said. "It was quite an eye-opener."

Fighting Crime

Southern said that technologies such as 3VR and CrimeDex could have strong implications for fighting crime.

"Any time you have a tool like this-and this one in particular, because of the quality of the photographs and the speed-I think if we could make greater use of these kinds of systems, then we can have greater success," he said. "It's all a matter of how you connect the dots between the cases, and that's what I spend most of my time trying to do. In CrimeDex you don't have to have pictures-you can do that with check data."

He noted that getting better at using the tool will mean not just catching one-off perpetrators, but also stopping larger, organized criminal groups. He said the facial recognition software also holds great promise.

Also read: 3VR's Case Study with Harborstone Credit Union.

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