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International fraud ring thwarted locally
Eau Claire Leader-Telegram
The call came into the Eau Claire Police Department at 3:24 on a Wednesday afternoon about 15 months ago. It originated from the Associated Bank branch at 220 Water St. and involved an account showing evidence of suspicious activity. Little did Eau Claire police know at the time that a seemingly straightforward fake ID case would end up being one of the linchpins in solving a massive fraud case that stretched from California to New York to West Africa. The U.S. attorney's office in Minnesota maintains that the case, which went to trial last week in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, involved stealing the identities of more than 8,000 individuals worldwide and defrauding some of the nation's largest financial institutions out of more than $10 million. A key break in the case came when Associated Bank flagged what it suspected might be a fraudulent account, prompting tellers to reject the transaction and call police. Eau Clair Leader-Telegram

Baldwin: Tighten rules for future bank settlements
Wisconsin Rapids Tribune
U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin is asking the nation's attorney general to make it harder for states to redirect money that comes from mortgage settlements against large banks. Baldwin criticized Gov. Scott Walker's plan to use about $26 million of the $140 allocated by the national mortgage settlement to help plug a state budget hole, saying the money needs to go to those who were devastated by the housing crisis. In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, she asks that any future settlements that are reached include language that would prohibit states from doing what Walker is planning. Wisconsin Rapids Tribune

Lawmaker aims to reduce Medicaid fraud
WRN
A pair of legislative proposals could help cut some of the state's Medicaid costs by helping to reduce fraud. The bills from state Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) would allow health officials to investigate the financial records of Medicaid enrollees and determine if someone also has private insurance coverage. Nygren says the bills will assure applicants meet the eligibility standards that are in state statutes, reducing the possibility someone can get away with lying in order to obtain state benefits. The first bill allows the state to access the bank records of those applying for Medicaid. Nygren says that information is currently self-reported, leaving the system wide open to fraud. The second bill would require insurers to report who they are covering, allowing the Department of Health Services to determine if Medicaid is being billed for something private insurance should be covering. WRN

State credit unions finish year in the black
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
All of Wisconsin's 10 biggest credit unions finished in the black last year, with only two posting an earnings decrease from 2010. Several saw double-digit increases in earnings, aided by several factors: improving loan portfolios that allowed them to allocate less to loan-loss reserves, inexpensive funds to lend and more loans. Overall last year, loans for Wisconsin's more than 200 state-chartered credit unions rose 4.3%, to $16.4 billion from $15.7 billion, according to the state Department of Financial Institutions. Brett Thompson, CEO of the Wisconsin Credit Union League, said he suspects increased business lending and refinancing existing mortgages were the two main drivers of the increase in lending. The number of credit unions in the state continued to drop, with larger ones absorbing smaller ones. There were 223 credit unions at the end of 2010 and 203 at the end of 2011. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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