The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Breaking News

Local News

July 13, 2013

Credit unions say members were scammed

SHENANGO VALLEY — More than 100 customers of two local credit unions unwittingly divulged their account or debit card PINs Thursday evening, giving potential thieves access to their funds.

Mercer County Community and PennStar federal credit unions said when they opened for business Friday they were deluged with calls from customers saying they realized they had been scammed. Victims said they received phone calls or text messages allegedly from their credit union, asking them to verify their account number or debit card PINs - personal identification numbers.

“They were told that something was wrong with their account and asked for their account or PIN number,’’ said Jerry Miller, director of lending for Mercer County FCU. “We would never do such a thing. We would never ask someone for an account or PIN number, because we already have it.’’

As of Friday morning, the credit union with offices in Hermitage and Sharon had been contacted by more than 100 customers who gave out their account information.

“We’ve been answering calls left and right,’’ said Pam Suber, PennStar’s CEO. PennStar’s office is in Hermitage.

What prompted customers to give out the information was that the text or phone message told them if they didn’t, their debit card or account would be shut down.

“They knew exactly what to say. It’s terrible,’’ Suber said of the scammers. “But we would never, ever ask you for a number that we issued to you.’’

Both credit unions said they were blocking use of debit cards and were preventing unauthorized use of accounts.

Neither institution knew how scammers gained access to members’ cell or home phones.

“The member has no liability. The credit union eats all of the loss,’’ Suber said. “We have insurance, but there is such a high deductible we’ll never collect on it.’’

Conning consumers out of information such as passwords or user names for financial gain is a practice known as “phishing” and is often used in e-mails and on social websites.

Sharon and Hermitage police were called to investigate but both departments said they are limited in what they can do.

No other institutions reported phishing scams, both departments said.

“It looks like this is all leading to Texas,’’ said Brian Blair, Hermitage police chief. “Someone running a scam like this has advanced skills and trying to track them down will be next to impossible.’’

Other agencies, probably with federal resources, may be called in for help, said Mike Menster, Sharon’s police chief.

“What you often find is these scams end up coming from countries like Nigeria – places where the United States has no extradition agreements so you can’t do anything about it,’’ Menster said. “The Internet is hard to police.’’

Both credit unions urged their members to contact them if they believe they were victims of the scam.

Text Only
Local News
  • Wildlife fund for park Aiding Buhl Farm animals

    Some of Steven Jubelirer’s fondest memories of his mother, Natalie, was when they would walk together in Buhl Farm park, Hermitage.

    April 16, 2014 3 Photos

  • News briefs from April 15, 2014

    Man charged with attack on his wife in Walmart

    Woman arrested for stabbing man with knife

    3 injured in pickup-motorcycle crash

    April 15, 2014

  • Judge orders Marin removed from ballot

    Saying the testimony of Congressional candidate Mel Marin of Sharon wasn’t credible, the Commonwealth Court has ordered Marin’s name removed from the Democratic Party’s ballot for one of area’s congressional seats in the May primary because Marin now has less than the required 1,000 valid signatures.

    April 15, 2014

  • Fire ruled accident, but cause unknown

    The fire in Greenville-Reynolds Industrial Park was most likely started by workers who were gutting the building, according to a deputy fire marshal.

    April 15, 2014

  • Mertz Tower fire Mertz tenant charged with arson

    A tenant who was being evicted from her apartment because of bizarre behavior is accused of setting her sofa ablaze at Wade D. Mertz Towers in Sharpsville.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tickled reflexology and pedicure salon Crafting a new downtown

    We’ll know better five years from now what lasting impact public interest in the arts and boutique shopping had in efforts to revitalize downtown Sharon with small businesses.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Have van, need drivers to serve elderly

    April 14, 2014

  • Jim Raykie column photo Technology aside, constant has been serving community

    Wow ... I was thinking about The Herald’s 150th birthday during the weekend, and realized that I’m getting old – I’ve been here for more than a quarter of that century and a half.





    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • The Herald, 1941 Herald marks 150th year

    The Herald today, April 14, celebrates 150 years of serving area readers and advertisers.

    April 14, 2014 2 Photos

  • Attorneys preparing work for murder trial

    Emerging from his chambers after about two hours of meeting with attorneys in Ralph L. Young’s murder case, Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Christopher J. St. John thanked spectators for their patience in waiting for the public portion of the hearing.

    April 13, 2014

  • Funds tapped for child advocacy centers

    Rooms fashioned to give child abuse victims a non-threatening place to tell their stories now have steady funding, at the suggestion of a task force created in the aftermath of the Jerry Sandusky scandal.

    April 13, 2014

  • $35M upgrade planned for tube plant

    Wheatland Tube Co.’s Council Avenue plant in Wheatland is going to get a $35 million upgrade, the company announced Saturday morning.

    April 13, 2014

  • Fire wall Wooden structure was origin of industrial blaze

    The fire in Greenville-Reynolds Industrial Park that damaged several buildings points to human error, but a construction feature from another era may have kept the damage from being much worse.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Dave King looks at remnants Fire’s cause points to ‘human error’

    A mammoth fire that swept through Greenville-Reynolds Industrial Park on Friday was blamed on “human error’’ with preliminary damage estimates between $2 and $3 million.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • Man gets prison term for assaults on baby, man

    There’s a lot Sheila Gardner hasn’t known about her son and she’s not proud of some of what she has learned.

    April 12, 2014