CEO’s Theft Leads to Closure of Credit Union
Leader spent $2.1 million on personal purchases, including a pig farm
The leader of a small town credit union brazenly stole from the bank, causing the demise of a credit union founded by her own grandparents decades ago.
Stacey Shaw opened six unauthorized credit cards in her name and repeatedly raised the credit limits on the cards over a period of three years. Since she had access to the credit card database, she was also able to set the interest rates and the monthly payments on the cards. In total, Shaw charged $2.1 million on the credit cards.
Shaw’s conduct was discovered after the credit union was audited. What made her actions completely shocking, especially to the board members of the credit union who trusted her entirely, was the fact that Shaw had deep ties to the credit union because it was her grandparents who opened it. She was one of only three employees, and the board had no access to the databases. Shaw was a trusted insider.
After the audit, the credit union reached out to the FBI. Through bank records, agents quickly pieced together what Shaw had done.
Luckily for the credit union members, insurance reimbursed them, so they didn't lose their own money. But the loss to the small Beaver, Pennsylvania, credit union, founded in 1964, was so large, it had to permanently close.
“This credit union no longer exists because of her actions,” said Special Agent Samantha Bell, who investigated the case out of the FBI’s Pittsburgh Field Office.
Through financial records, investigators learned Shaw used the credit cards to go on trips, eat out at restaurants, buy clothes, and start a pig farm.
“She bought some land and spent a lot of money into outfitting that land for her use,” said Bell. “She bought ATVs, four-wheelers, four sheds, pigs. At one point, she had a horse and some really big rabbits. A lot of money went into funding that effort.”
“This credit union no longer exists because of her actions.”
Samantha Bell, special agent, FBI Pittsburgh
There was nothing that the government could recover. “The property is actually worth less than what she bought it for. Nothing that she had left would actually make a profit for the government,” said Bell. Bell noted that the credit union may take some of the assets to try to sell for a profit and recoup some of the losses.
Shaw pleaded guilty to embezzlement from a federal credit union and was sentenced in January 2022 to 51 months in prison.
According to Bell, cases like Shaw’s are not uncommon, and state and local police departments don’t always have enough personnel to tackle these types of investigations. The FBI can often assist with additional investigators and expertise.
“We do see a lot of people stealing, especially employees with access to funds. It’s a crime that happens a lot,” Bell said.