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By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — A thirty-one-year-old Glenwood City woman has been accused of felony fraud against a financial institution in an amount exceeding $500 but less than $10,000.
A criminal complaint filed in Dunn County November 19 names Amanda K. Hillstead, the owner of the Wilson Nite Club, 260 Wilson Street in Wilson, as the defendant.
According to the criminal complaint, an officer with the Menomonie Police Department received a telephone call on April 11, 2017, from a Bremer Bank loss prevention employee, Ann Pivec, who wanted to report a fraud that had taken place March 10, 2017.
A Bremer Bank member, Amanda Hillstead, owed $5,176.30 to Xcel Energy for her business, the Wilson Nite Club, she said.
Since Hillstead did not have enough money in her account to pay the Xcel Energy bill, she had asked Bremer Bank for assistance in making the payment. Bremer Bank received an e-mail message March 20, 2017, that contained documentation from Hillstead and indicating Hillstead was approved for an $8,000 loan from Merchant Cash Group. The money would be deposited on March 16. Because of the confirmation e-mail, Bremer Bank immediately paid Hillstead’s Xcel Energy bill for the Wilson Nite Club, according to the complaint.
Several days later, Bremer Bank president Mark Kalscheur became suspicious since $8,000 was never deposited into Hillstead’s account, and Bremer Bank had already paid the $5,176.30 to Xcel Energy.
Kalscheur contacted a Merchant Cash Group underwriter to verify Hillstead’s loan had been approved by Merchant Cash Group, the complaint states.
Kalscheur received an e-mail message from the underwriter on March 20, 2017, indicating Merchant Cash Group did not produce the document supplied by Hillstead which said Hillstead had been approved for a loan.
Bremer Bank attempted to contact Hillstead numerous times regarding the invalid loan but were unable to reach her, according to the complaint.
The Menomonie Police Department officer met with Hillstead on April 27, 2017, regarding the fraud complaint from Bremer Bank and requested the e-mail messages between Hillstead and Merchant Cash Group. Hillstead told the officer she had attempted to locate the e-mail messages, could not find them, and believed the e-mails had been deleted.
Hillstead said she had been in contact with a Bremer Bank employee regarding the Xcel Energy bill but she denied forging the loan document, the complaint states.
The Menomonie police officer showed Hillstead the e-mails between Bremer Bank employees and Merchant Cash Group employees regarding the loan document.
Hillstead then admitted to forging the loan document and said she had received a valid loan from Merchant Cash Group in the past but had forged the document in question so the electricity would not be shut off her to business, according to the complaint.
Hillstead said she had originally planned to reimburse Bremer Bank, but she needed the money immediately for the Xcel Energy bill, the complaint states.
As of late Monday morning, December 3, a court hearing had not yet been scheduled for Hillstead in Dunn Count Circuit Court.
Fraud against a financial institution of more than $500 but less than $10,000 is a Class H felony that, upon conviction, carries a penalty of a fine of up to $10,000 and/or a prison sentence of up to six years.