U card fraud suspects caught

Thomas Douty

Despite the various requirements a University student must go through to obtain a U Card, three people might have found a way to take advantage of the system.
A 28-year-old woman and a Minneapolis man used aliases to obtain University identification cards and bounced $5,000 in checks from four different Twin Cities Federal Savings Bank accounts.
Although the suspects found a loophole in the system, Shirley Everson, the director of the University’s U Card office, said she feels confident the school has a secure procedure. She said it is so good that many other institutions model their systems after the University.
Everson said it would be impossible to obtain a U Card without the proper picture identification.
“They can demand everything in the world to get a card … but if they don’t have a photo I.D., they don’t get it,” she said.
Everson said universities must take precautions since the cards can be used at cash machines, phone booths and checkout counters.
“As cards become more functional, (schools) have to be more careful,” she said.
All four fraudulent accounts were closed for insufficient funds.
Richfield police arrested the female suspect’s mother Dec. 14, when she allegedly tried to pass a check from one of the accounts at the Lyndale Garden Center in Minneapolis.
Upon searching the daughter’s residence, the former University student admitted to opening three checking accounts under aliases. She told police her ex-boyfriend also obtained a fake U Card and opened an illegal account.
Richfield police officer Pat Whelan said the woman and her ex-boyfriend used false information to obtain the U Cards.
Whelan is awaiting copies of the four I.D. cards from the University to connect the suspects with the accounts.
According to TCF, a person must present a valid, government-issued identification card to open an account.
Ron Britz, a representative for the campus card office at TCF, said although the instance is rare, it is not impossible.
“I’ve been here two-and-a-half years and I have never had an incident involving fraudulent U Cards,” he said.
Charges have not been filed, but Whelan predicts further action in coming weeks.

Thomas Douty covers police and courts and welcomes comments at [email protected] He also can be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3233.