Man Complains of Forgery at Wells Fargo
LOS ANGELES (CN) - Wells Fargo Bank makes its branch managers meet new-account quotas to keep their jobs, so they do it by forging customers' signatures on applications, a depositor claims in court.
David E. Douglas sued Wells Fargo Bank and three managers and assistant managers, in Superior Court.
Defendants include Michelle Romanoff, assistant manager at the bank's branch at La Cienega and Wilshire; Arthur Davis, branch manager at Century City; and Alex M. Fuentes, branch manager and assistant vice president at the Wilshire-Crescent branch.
Douglas describes himself as a "long-time valued customer" of Wells Fargo. He claims he recently learned that Wells Fargo "has had and continues to have a policy of requiring its employees and branch managers to meet a quota of opening new accounts monthly in order to achieve sales goals and in order to maintain their employment at Wells Fargo."
Given this corporate demand, Douglas says in the lawsuit, Wells Fargo "should have known that its employees and bank managers routinely use the account information, date of birth, and Social Security and taxpayer identification numbers of defendant Wells Fargo's existing bank customers to use the existing bank customers' money to open additional accounts in the existing customers' names without their knowledge or consent and by forging the signature of their existing customers without their knowledge or consent to open said additional accounts, including purported business accounts for businesses that do not exist."
Douglas claims the individual defendants opened at least eight accounts in his name and forged his signature on the applications without his knowledge.
They also made up businesses using his name on accounts, he says, "including 'David E. Douglas Painting and Design' and 'David Douglas Landscaping,' when plaintiff had no such businesses and was not engaged in those types of businesses at all."
He claims that defendant Fuentes also transferred or attempted to transfer money from his account to Fuentes' mother's account, without his consent.
Douglas says that when found out about the unauthorized accounts and money transfers, he contacted a fraud investigator at the bank's Beverly Hills branch. She assured him that Wells Fargo would "conduct a thorough investigation and make him whole," but he never heard back from her or anyone else at the bank, so he was forced to sue, Douglas says in the complaint.
Lawyers for Wells Fargo have not yet seen the lawsuit, spokesman Gary Kishner said.
"As for our banking stores, I can tell you that our team members strive to provide customers with products and services that will help the customer succeed financially," Kishner said in an email.
Douglas seeks at least $25,000 in special, exemplary and punitive damages for unlawful business practices, fraud, negligence and negligent hiring.
He is represented by Michael P. Kade.