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Congratulations Jesica Garza! New Area Manager

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Jesica Garza has been promoted to Area Manager for the Urban North region at SouthStar Bank. This region includes the Georgetown, Leander, and Round Rock locations.

Having joined SouthStar Bank in 2019, Jesica excelled in her previous role as Vice President of Lending. In her new capacity, she is eager to leverage her wealth of knowledge and expertise to lead her team of loan officers toward achieving goals that enhance the lending experience for all customers.

Jesica specializes in complex underwriting, providing customers with unique lending options, and has emerged as a commercial and residential lending expert. Her contributions have earned her awards with the bank, including the President’s Award in 2023 and the Ride for the Brand Award in 2021. She has also received accolades from the Austin Home Builders Association, where she was named Mortgage Industry Professional of the Year in 2023 and recognized as one of Austin’s Top Mortgage Professionals in 2021 and 2022.

Beyond her professional achievements, Jesica is actively involved in the community, dedicating support to Flatwater, a local non-profit founded by her husband that provides access to therapy for families coping with a cancer diagnosis. She is also in the 2024 Leadership Georgetown class with the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and looks forward to leadership serving opportunities in her hometown of Georgetown upon graduation in June.

Outside of work, Jesica can be found spending time with her husband and two children at the soccer fields or family dinners with their large extended family in Georgetown. When she finds time for herself, she enjoys workouts at her local CrossFit gym or diving into a good novel.

Employee Spotlight – Melissa Greger

Melissa Greger, Assistant Vice President & Loan Operations Processor | SouthStar Bank Calvert

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Melissa Greger is an Assistant Vice President and Loan Operations Processor at the SouthStar Bank Calvert Branch. Melissa holds more than three decades of experience in the banking industry and is approaching a quarter century at SouthStar Bank. The proudest moment in her career came when she received the title of Assistant Vice President, something she had strived to achieve for many years. In her role, Melissa loves collaborating with the Loan Officers and Loan Coordinators across the bank to help make borrowers’ dreams come true. Hearing the excitement in the borrower’s voice when they purchase their new home brings her great joy.

Melissa regularly attends Salem Lutheran Church, where she has been a member for 22 years. She is also a part of the top fundraising Relay for Life team in the entire Bell County area. Melissa also participates in the Feed My Sheep outreach program in Bell County; this program allows people from the community to help prepare a meal once a month for people experiencing homelessness.

When Melissa finds time to herself, there is nothing she loves more than fishing. Rockport, Texas, is her home away from home, with her family making multiple trips down south each year. She says there is no better sight than watching the sun go down while hauling a massive red drum. One item on Melissa’s bucket list is to take her fishing skills to Louisiana for a guided fishing trip.

Congratulations Tyler Narro! New Branch Manager

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Tyler Narro has been promoted to Assistant Vice President and Branch Manager of the SouthStar Bank Hearne branch. As a Personal Banker, she has thrived at finding solutions for her customers’ needs. Tyler has been with the Hearne team for just under six years and brings over a decade of banking experience to her new position.

As branch manager, Tyler is excited to support her team in any way possible to ensure the branch remains compliant. She is also motivated to deepen her connection with the community of Hearne in her new role. Overall, Tyler looks forward to continuing to develop her team and leading them to success in 2024!

Outside of work, Tyler spends much of her time with her children, attending her son’s sporting events and enjoying the outdoors.

Common Romance Scams in 2024

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With Valentine’s Day approaching, it is important to be wary of Romance Scams (also called Love Scams). In a romance scam, scammers target individuals by creating a fake online persona (through social media, email, etc.) and then making romantic advances at the targeted individuals. The scammer will then attempt to connect emotionally with the victim to gain their trust enough to either ask or blackmail the victim for money. These scams can appear in a variety of ways; below are some of the most frequent examples:

Photo Scams

A photo scam takes place when a scammer tries to convince their victim to send over sensitive personal information in exchange for intimate photos from the scammer. A reverse of this is also known to occur when a scammer coerces the victim to send intimate images; upon receiving these photos, the scammer will then use them as leverage to blackmail the victim. If your online love interest seems insistent on obtaining your personal information or sends continuous requests for intimate photos, particularly ones that include your face, it is vital to recognize these signs as red flags.

Fake Dating Website Scams       

Online dating has exploded in popularity in recent years, with online dating app users increasing from around 200 million users in 2015 to nearly 340 million in 2022. With such rapid growth come many new apps and websites looking to capitalize on this growing market. While some of these upstarts are trying to help you find love, others are scammers looking to manipulate victims and steal their information. These scams involve creating a website under the guise of a typical dating website. However, the user base is either full of scammers who will pry victims for information or the user base is incredibly small so the scammer can steal any info they can get when victims “register” for the site. Reminder, it is important to vet any website before signing up and offering personal information.

Military Romance Scams

Scammers will also try to manipulate victims by impersonating members of the military. These scams revolve around creating a compelling fake military persona and convincing victims they require financial assistance. In this scam, scammers will use a high volume of military-related terms and offer an official title or rank to gain the victim’s trust. They will then claim they need money to cover certain expenses. The most common request for funds is for “flights home” or even flights to visit the victim. In both scenarios, the scammer will simply pocket the money, make an excuse about how they couldn’t come home, and continue to ask for money from the victim. When exploring a relationship with anyone online, it is of the utmost importance to verify that they are who they say they are; failure to do so can lead to catastrophic financial consequences.

These are just a few examples of Romance Scams; many more methods exist, and more will come in the future. Protecting yourself and staying informed on how and when you could be targeted is more crucial than ever. Scammers use any leverage they can get their hands on, and unfortunately, emotionally vulnerable individuals are a common target. Love is in the air around this time of year, but it is vital not to get caught up dreaming only to wake up in a nightmare.

Source: Business of Apps & Norton

Employee Spotlight – Lora Scasta

Lora Scasta, Assistant Vice President of Lending | SouthStar Bank Hearne

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Lora Scasta is an Assistant Vice President of Lending at the SouthStar Bank Hearne Branch. Lora was with the bank for two decades before taking a brief one-year hiatus and returning in the Fall of 2023. Lora is ready to hit the ground running in her second stint with SouthStar, as she looks forward to furthering her knowledge and expertise. She enjoys being able to help people on both the lending and deposit sides of banking, leaning on her wealth of experience to guide her peers. Lora also thrives working in a team environment and loves to be able to help her customers and coworkers in any way possible.

Outside of work, Lora is very active in her church community, her local Chamber of Commerce, and the Salvation Army. She also loves traveling, especially if there is a beach within reach. Lora has traveled to a number of tropical destinations, including her favorite place to visit, Destin, Florida. A surprising fact about Lora is that the first concert she ever attended was George Strait at G. Rollie White Coliseum when she was 12.

Welcome Back Bryce Johnston

Bryce Johnston, Loan Review Analyst | SouthStar Bank Leander

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Bryce Johnston has rejoined the SouthStar Bank team as a Loan Review Analyst. Bryce originally joined the team in the summer of 2023, working as an intern in the Credit Department and exhibiting an excellent ability to thrive in a team environment. Bryce recently graduated with a degree in Finance from St. Edward’s University. He brings an inquisitive sense of curiosity that allows him to learn and grow in his position continuously. He believes each loan has a different story, which helps keep him engaged with all the loans that come to him for review.

Outside of work, Bryce enjoys golfing, watching sports, and following the stock market. He also loves to travel, and his favorite destination thus far has been France, where he was able to visit the World War II sites in Normandy and enjoy the excellent cuisine. One of Bryce’s most significant achievements was winning the Conference Championship as a St. Edward’s Lacrosse Team member during his time at the University.

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