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Multi-Million Dollar Fraud Scheme Uncovered by Widget Financial

Media outlets throughout the country continue to report on the vigilant efforts of Widget Financial which set in motion an FBI investigation uncovering massive federal fraud. 

Stolen identities were used to open bank and credit union accounts throughout the country. These accounts were used to obtain credit cards and even file an estimated 2,400 fraudulent federal tax returns  which resulted in millions of dollars in losses to the U.S. Treasury.

While no Widget Financial member account nor personal information was compromised, our Chief Executive Officer, Gail Cook was instrumental in leading her internal audit team to uncover the patterns of this fraud. Mrs. Cook forwarded the credit union's findings to the FBI and they commenced their wide-scale investigation in December of 2012. This case is now gaining widespread attention nationally after the arraignments of five suspected criminals yesterday in the Erie County Court System. 

This scheme would had likely continued to go unnoticed at financial institutions around the country but for the tenacity of our CEO and her team of auditors. Widget Financial employees were able to figure out and present key patterns and account behaviors which spurred on the federal investigation. Those officials are now crediting us for our diligence in uncovering this fraud and reporting it in such a timely manner!

The credit union conducts a very thorough quality control audit every year and we are well-trained in the account opening process to ensure that identity theft is not taking place. 

As a reminder, your money continues to be safe and secure in the credit union and should you have any questions or concerns, please contact the credit union 24/7 at 814.456.6231

 Here is a quote from our CEO, Gail Cook related to this important matter:

"As CEO of Widget Financial, I am very happy that our employees were able to uncover fraudulent behavior on a national-level. But perhaps even more so, I am proud of the many talented men and women who work each day at this financial institution doing their best for our membership.

"Being vigilant and thorough is part of the DNA of this credit union and we take these matters very seriously. We always strive to be compliant with government regulations and to be true to our own stringent internal controls. Indeed, the security of our members’ information and money is our primary motivation.

"We are happy with how law enforcement has conducted this case thus far and we are glad we were able to assist them as a catalyst for the investigation. For us, what was just a year ago no more than a routine function of our jobs as credit union employees, is now blossoming into something seemingly heroic for potentially thousands of law-abiding Americans. These citizens don’t deserve to have their identity used fraudulently.

"I feel any person who works hard to do the right thing day in and day out, can take hope in our situation and understand the measure of the pride I feel in our staff!"

 

The following are some of the links to the coverage related to this story:

Erie (surrounding):

http://www.yourerie.com/news/news-article/d/story/five-men-indicted-in-identity-theft-fraud-case/32055/-_iRwYEssEOfyVJOHnvAoA

http://www.yourerie.com/news/news-article/d/story/us-attorney-charges-5-in-multi-state-conspiracy-an/30191/n9TVbyEjAEWiHP-I8uMJzw

http://www.erietvnews.com/story/25321442/5-charged-in-massive-wire-fraud-scheme-case-broke-in-erie

http://www.erietvnews.com/story/25324170/local-bank-employee-helps-bust-national-id-theft-ring

http://www.goerie.com/5-indicted-in-massive-fraud-case-sparked-by-tip-from-erie

http://www.timesobserver.com/page/content.detail/id/493609/Prosecutor--ID-theft-scheme-cost-US-Treasury--10M.html?isap=1&nav=5038

 Pittsburgh (surrounding):

http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/5994359-74/tax-credit-hickton#axzz2zoAC8VUk

http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2014/04/23/5-nigerians-indicted-in-tax-return-fraud-scheme/

http://www.wpxi.com/news/news/local/da-says-id-theft-scheme-cost-us-treasury-10m/nfgLY/

http://www.wtae.com/news/details-of-massive-fraud-scheme-released-in-pittsburgh/25616320

http://www.bizjournals.com/pittsburgh/news/2014/04/23/five-indicted-in-fraud-case-impacting-thousands-of.html

http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2014/04/23/5-indicted-in-massive-identity-theft-scheme/stories/201404230170

http://www.butlereagle.com/article/20140423/NEWS12/704239822

http://wkbn.com/2014/04/23/pa-banks-used-in-massive-irs-fraud/

http://wkbn.com/2014/04/23/da-says-id-theft-scheme-cost-us-treasury-10m/

http://www.greenfieldreporter.com/view/story/07b8f24101b44fc995975b8796c18e1b/PA--ID-Theft-Tax-Scam

http://m.lancasteronline.com/news/pennsylvania/prosecutor-id-theft-scheme-cost-us-treasury-m/article_25d875de-7202-5b13-81d9-963d70e32a62.html?mode=jqmhttp://www.wdef.com/news/state/story/DA-says-ID-theft-scheme-cost-US-Treasury-10M/8MMLtKrIxUW6DwuTr1Tu9g.cspx

http://www.observer-reporter.com/article/20140423/NEWS04/140429829#.U1kQZfnIYp4

http://wesa.fm/post/millions-tax-refunds-obtained-through-massive-identity-theft-conspiracy

http://www.wjactv.com/template/inews_wire/wires.regional.pa/38ed70f9-www.wjactv.com.shtml#.U1kViPnIYp4

 Rhode Island:

http://www.abc6.com/story/25320017/da-says-id-theft-scheme-cost-us-treasury-10m

http://www.providencejournal.com/news/courts/20140423-rhode-island-resident-charged-in-id-theft-scheme-that-da-says-cost-us-treasury-10m.ece

http://wpri.com/2014/04/23/prosecutor-id-theft-scheme-cost-us-treasury-10m/

http://wpri.com/2014/04/23/rhode-island-man-among-five-indicted-massive-tax-fraud/

Tennessee:

http://www.wrcbtv.com/story/25320817/tennessean-charged-in-id-theft-scheme-that-cost-us-treasury-10m

http://www.wkrn.com/story/25320018/da-says-id-theft-scheme-cost-us-treasury-10m

http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2014/apr/24/memphis-man-implicated-id-theft-scheme-cost-us-tre/

Indiana:

http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/07b8f24101b44fc995975b8796c18e1b/PA--ID-Theft-Tax-Scam

New York:

http://www.oneidadispatch.com/general-news/20140424/10m-id-theft-tax-scheme-included-new-yorkers

National:

http://online.wsj.com/article/AP07b8f24101b44fc995975b8796c18e1b.html

http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2014/04/24/Woman-CEO-Who-Brought-Down-Massive-Tax-Fraud-Ring

Credit Union News:

http://www.cujournal.com/news/widget-financial-employee-uncovers-massive-fraud-scheme-1022500-1.html?utm_medium=email&ET=cujournal:e95261:a:&utm_campaign=-apr%2024%202014&utm_source=newsletter&st=email

 http://www.cutimes.com/2014/04/24/credit-union-uncovers-massive-nationwide-fraud-rin?eNL=51520a1b140ba0ed7800006c&utm_source=Daily&utm_medium=eNL&utm_campaign=CUT_eNLs&_LID=148374290