SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – Two members of Arrowhead Central CU were charged in a fraudulent loan scheme in which they borrowed as much as $240,000 from several area credit unions, then claimed identity theft to avoid paying back the loans.

The two Arrowhead members were charged in December with multiple counts of grand theft more than two years after allegations of fraud were first reported to sheriff’s officials by the credit union, according to court records.

Investigators discovered that, in 2009 to 2010, Ben Yansane and Becky Hopkins had opened signature, personal line of credit and vehicle loans with several credit unions. Yansane’s loans totaled at least $130,000, but investigators found he had hundreds of thousands of dollars more in unexplained income. Hopkins’ loans were estimated at $110,000.

An Arrowhead representative in April 2010 told authorities that fraudulent signature and vehicle loans had been taken by Yansane and Hopkins, the court records show. When obtaining vehicle loans, Yansane produced fake purchase orders with an address for a dealership that did not exist.

The court records describe one incident in which Yansane is alleged to have taken out an $8,000 loan, then – after most of the money had been removed from his checking account – claimed to have been the victim of identity theft. Investigators said he provided falsified police reports to support that claim, as he did with the other loans.

A search of Yansane’s Murrieta home in 2010 uncovered an e-mail which discussed how to place fraud alerts with credit reporting companies Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Hopkins, upon instructions from Yansane, obtained loans and then claimed identity theft and split the proceeds with Yansane, according to the records.

There also was evidence that the scheme might have involved dozens of other Southern California credit unions and banks, according to authorities.

 

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