Bancography | Branch Planning, Marketing Research, Brand Strategy, Products & Profitabilty

Can You Help Catch This Credit Union Voyeur?

[Note: There is an Update at the bottom of this article.]

A credit union employee with a fetish for female toes is putting voyeur videos of members and coworkers — all women wearing open-toed shoes — on YouTube.

The Financial Brand first learned about this series of shocking and offensive videos when one popped up on an automated Google Alert for “credit union” + “YouTube.” Someone under the YouTube handle marajohn1123 had posted an odd video of a female credit union co-worker’s toes. When a similar Google Alert was triggered for another video, this time of a member’s toes, it was clear that a credit union somewhere had a serious problem with a serial voyeur.

On the user’s YouTube channel (now closed), there were over 100 videos of women’s feet, all shot spycam style without the knowledge and approval of the victim. Based on information revealed in the videos, the videos were likely shot in and around a suburb of Atlantic City.

The credit union employee appears to be a loan officer or similar member service rep, but that doesn’t stop him from leaving his desk to film members’ toes at the branch ATM.

This is perhaps one of the scariest scenarios a bank or credit union could face in social media: a rogue employee exposing sensitive and/or harmful information through social channels. One unfortunate credit union is now subject to all kinds of legal, criminal, financial, privacy and reputational risks.

Anyone running regular YouTube searches for “credit union” would have found these videos, including managers at the credit union this guy works for.

Getty Images | Content Marketing

Key Questions: What can be done to prevent this kind of problem? Should financial institutions develop policies concerning use of smart phones — e.g., should they kept above tables, always in plain view and never used to video anything ever?

In one video, the perpetrator reveals his name. He and the member are discussing a pending car purchase when he phones the auto dealership, “Hey Vince, this is Marcus. Me and Tatiana are both here.”

A number of tattoos on Tatiana’s right foot are clearly identifiable.

Whatever Marcus is up to is possibly illegal and definitely creepy.

A snapshot of a frame taken from one of the voyeur’s videos of a member’s toes.
The video is no longer available, and the YouTube channel has been closed.

Key Question: What else has Marcus filmed? Why should we believe he draws the line at toes?

In another video, Marcus accidentally allows the local area in which he works to be revealed. In a tape conversation, the member says, “There’s a new [inaudible] Dress Barn that’s opening up on Hamilton Commons like right near the movie theater [inaudible] and she’s trying to get me there.” In the video, you can hear Marcus agreeing as if he completely understands the area the member is describing.

Getty Images | Content Marketing

The “Red Toe Nails” video was posted April 5, 2012. Four days later, an article in a local New Jersey paper ran a story about a new Dress Barn opening up in Hamilton Commons, located in Hamilton Township, NJ, about seven miles northwest of Atlantic City.

A snapshot of a frame taken from one of the voyeur’s videos of a member’s toes.
The video is no longer available, and the YouTube channel has been closed.

Google Maps indicates nine credit unions with branch locations around the Hamilton Township area. Many are too small to have branch locations as sophisticated as the one depicted in the voyeur’s videos.

Bottom Line: As managers, we need to keep an eye on how people (both employees and the general public) are use their mobile phones in branches, particularly in this day and age when anything and everything — literally… everyyyyything — can wind up on YouTube. As individuals, we need to be aware of how others are using their phones around us, and realize that someone who appears to be toying with their phone may indeed be filming something you don’t approve of.

Update (May 5, 2012): The Financial Brand has called numerous credit unions in the area around Atlantic City in an unsuccessful attempt to locate Marcus. The Financial Brand has also sent several messages to NJ credit unions and other CU industry insiders to no avail. It is entirely possible that Marcus works/worked at a bank and posted the videos as “credit union” to throw anyone off. Indeed, some of the videos he shot at work were marked “bank,” but most were labeled “credit union.” The YouTube channel Marcus created was closed by the user, likely in response to this article, as YouTube alerts users when videos are embedded elsewhere on the web.


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Comments

  1. This is a very odd article. It’s VERY loosely tied to the branding topic, and frankly, I’m disappointed that the FB even posted this, with embedded videos and links, no less. Very unnecessary. If people feel the need to watch them, let them find the videos on their own.

    I hope you weren’t just going for hype here. Instead of playing super-sleuth in a ‘Look what we found!’ kind of way, let’s focus on substance. That said, I’ll try to do my part and address some of your questions.

    “What can be done to prevent this kind of problem?”
    Don’t hire creepy sleazeballs. Fire them if they sneak through the interview process.

    “Should financial institutions develop policies concerning use of smart phones — e.g., should they kept above tables, always in plain view and never used to video anything ever?”
    I love how the first reaction to this weirdo’s antics is to create a policy that affects EVERYONE ELSE in the credit union. If the CU is so concerned that this could become a reoccurring issue with their employees, I think they have a MUCH bigger problem on their hands. Also, see Derek Siver’s video – ‘Don’t punish everyone for one person’s mistake.’ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPOezLL398U

    “Key Question: What else has Marcus filmed? Why should we believe he draws the line at toes?”
    Really? This is a key question? He’s already crossed the line; let’s not try to see to what extent. How about something with more substance that’s relevant to a FI’s brand? For example, ‘How is social media changing the way FI’s must care for their brand? Should FI’s attempt to respond/react to issues like this? How?’

  2. What is even more disturbing (if what you posted was not enough) is that some of the voyeur cam videos have had well over 500 views.

  3. Sorry the article is a disappointment Matt. While the subject feels unseemly, I do believe it provides some learning opportunities for financial institutions, even though many of the questions it raises are uncomfortable. For instance, relative to your advice, “How does a credit union avoid hiring creepy sleazeballs?” What can a financial institution do to catch people engaged in this kind of behavior? The financial institution facing the situation with Marcus in NJ surely isn’t the only one. Indeed last year another credit union had an issue arise with a spycam placed in an employee lactation room. Since there are undoubtedly similar weirdos working at other banks/CUs, what can be done to stop and/or catch them? The threat is as uncommon as it is deplorable, but the magnitude of risk/impact to the brand warrants some examination.

    While you’re right, this kind of situation isn’t a typical branding issue, it is this kind of thing that could easily balloon into an issue that ends careers and maybe even puts a financial institution’s entire future into question. Along those lines, the question about what else Marcus may have filmed isn’t intended to be tawdry. It’s to make brand managers realize that guys like Marcus can bring your whole organization down. If he’s filmed more than toes, Marcus probably won’t be the only one to lose his job. The ensuing fallout would be awful, and something no brand manager would want to endure. Toes might not trigger a severe public reaction, but anything worse will almost certainly result in dire consequences for the CU’s brand.

    As for whether policies should change, the article posed a question, not a recommendation. It’s a sensitive and difficult matter. However, if I was the head of HR at a bank or credit union, I would consider alerting staff and discussing what they might want to look out for. I’d consider issuing a policy that clarified what an employee should do if they suspect someone is filming something they shouldn’t. As an HR director, I don’t know whether my organization has a Marcus problem or not. But simply by issuing a written policy, it might be enough to stop someone like Marcus from filming at work (e.g., “Yikes, they must be on to me. I’d better stop.”). You could look at it as one part proactive management, and one part preemptive mitigation.

  4. A couple follow-up thoughts… First, it’s probably not a bad idea for HR to tell staff to be on the look out for people videoing anything in branches, whether it be employees or customers/members. Joe Public may look like he is fiddling around with his iPhone, but he could be casing the joint for a robbery. And that guy pretending to tie his shoe in ATM line? He could be videoing something that someone has no business filming from down there. New technologies bring with them new threats. Staff training and policies may need updating accordingly. Which brings up the second point, about social media compliance policies. If you don’t have one yet, this kind of situation should illustrate the gravity of need. If an employee posted something that you wouldn’t want on social channels — not necessarily stuff as bad/potentially illegal as what Marcus did, but bad just the same — a social media policy can give your organization the legal leverage you need to deal with the problem swiftly and without complications.

  5. muluacp says:

    There can’t be too many Marcus’ working in the nine branch locations suspected…has this man been caught?

  6. Not to my knowledge.

  7. In the comments following another post about this situation, Ron Shevlin suggested that a financial institution’s “employees should be banned from photographing or video recording what happens in the workplace.” Period.

    Makes sense, doesn’t it?

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