We've previously written about how one criminal used over 50 counterfeit checks to defraud Utah credit unions out of over $125,000. Today, we bring you yet another low-tech crime story about how a credit union in Wisconsin was defrauded out of more than $6.9 million. While hi-tech crimes such as phishing and ransomware all spiked during 2020 because of the big move online, the potential of low-tech crime can't be shoved into the background. They are still very much alive and can have a high impact.
What's striking about this particular crime is the former mayor of Columbus, WI, Michael Eisenga, who stole the money. Columbus is a small town located in southern Wisconsin and northeast of Madison. Eisenga was mayor of the town for 5 years. He also owned a mortgage company, American Lending Solutions, from 1990 to 2018.
Eisenga will spend 3.5 years in prison for his efforts, followed by 5 years of supervised release. He's also been ordered to pay restitution of $4,027,037 to Alliant Credit Union in Rolling Meadows, Ill.
Eisenga pulled off his crime by submitting fake loan documents to Alliant for a commercial property to be developed in Columbus, Wis. During the Great Financial Crisis, Eisenga had fallen on hard times and looked to the new development as a way to stabilize his financial situation.
Alliant wasn't exactly blind-sided. Although Eisenga may have had an advantage in filling out fraudulent loan documents from his years managing a mortgage company, his past provided clues. From 2005-2011, the Wisconsin State Journal found that Eisenga's businesses were investigated by state agencies in Wisconsin and Illinois. They assessed him with more than $400,000 in back taxes, back wages, fines, and penalties.
In 2011, a Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) found that Eisenga's mortgage company made false statements and used unlicensed loan originators. He was ordered to pay $150,000 in fines.
Eisenga will start his prison sentence on July 30.