A Menomonie woman will spend three years on probation for opening loans in the names of previous customers and pocketing the cash while working for a nonbank cash advance business.
Brooke E. Suckow, 38, 3021 Schabacker Court, pleaded no contest this week in Eau Claire County Court to three felony counts of identity theft and a felony count of theft by false representation.
Judge Shaughnessy Murphy fined Suckow $2,082 and sentenced her to 90 days in jail, which will be waived if she successfully completes her probation.
Suckow was ordered to pay restitution, the amount of which has not been determined.
As conditions of probation, Suckow cannot have contact with Advance America or her victims.
According to the criminal complaint:
An Eau Claire County sheriff’s deputy was sent to Advance America, 2527 E. Clairemont Ave., in the town of Washington, on Aug. 8 in reference to a theft case. There he met a man reporting that someone had taken out a loan in his name at the business.
The man said he took out a loan at the business in June but had paid it off on July 1. He said he returned on Aug. 8 to take out another loan, but the employee told him he could not get one because he had just been there three days earlier.
The man said he was not in town on Aug. 5 and had not taken out a loan that day. He told the deputy he believed that an employee at Advance America had processed the loan in his name.
The deputy later made contact with the company’s divisional director of operations, Gail Curran, who told him they suspected that an employee working at the business on the date of the incident had been responsible for the fraudulent loan.
Curran said she was looking into all of the loans that the employee had done, and she had already found another that was suspicious. She identified the employee as Suckow, who had been with the company for about four months.
Curran said she also had been in contact with Ron Mickinak, the director of loss prevention, who advised he had been reviewing video from the store, and it appeared the man reporting the suspicious loan hadn’t been in the business at the time it was processed.
On Aug. 9, another deputy met with Mickinak at Advance America, and Mickinak said as he started looking into the matter, he realized it might be a bigger case than he originally thought.
In looking into past transactions dating back to June 29, Mickinak said he found nine that were made by Suckow. He said the transactions involved nine different possible victims and totaled $4,650.
When he sat down with Suckow, Mickinak said she told him she had opened up loans in the names of previous customers and would pocket the cash. Suckow also claimed the customer who initially called the authorities was in on the transaction she made using his name.
The deputy made contact with Suckow, and she admitted to him that she opened the loans and took the cash. But she claimed that she was being pressured by her store manager to make the transactions. Mickinak told the deputy that was the first he had heard that.
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