Customer Accuses Beleaguered Wells Fargo of Aiding and Abetting

FILE – Commuters walk by a Wells Fargo ATM at New York’s Penn Station. (AP file photo/ Swayne B. Hall)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (CN) — Already battered with lawsuits nationwide for its false accounts scandal, Wells Fargo has been sued again, by an accountholder who says the bank let a scammer take him for $285,000 through its negligence and aiding and abetting.

Christopher Schuman sued Wells Fargo Bank and Bank of America on Oct. 5 in Broward County Court. He is represented by Bradley Edwards, with Farmer Jaffe Weissing Edwards Fistos & Lehrman, in Fort Lauderdale.

In June this year, Schuman says, he made a $10,000 earnest money down payment on a $1.3 million property in Broward County, from his Wells Fargo bank account.

Assisted by an attorney, he says, he made a second payment of $520,000, from the same Wells Fargo.

On July 5, Schuman says, he received an email from someone claiming to be his attorney, asking him to wire another $585,000 toward the closing. He says his financial adviser at Wells Fargo contacted another Wells Fargo employee, “who agreed to assist Mr. Schuman with the wire transfer electronically without requiring his physical presence or physical signature.”

Wells Fargo transferred the money, then on July 11, Schuman says, he received another email from the impostor, asking for the remaining $254,027 to close on the real estate. That prompted him to call his attorney, who informed him that he knew nothing about the requests of July 5 or July 11.

Schuman says he called Wells Fargo immediately to cancel the wire transactions, and was told that the receiving bank was Bank of America, and that $300,000 could be frozen, but that $285,000 had already been sent to South Africa.

He wants his money back, with interest, plus costs and damages for breach of faith, breach of statutory duty, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, aiding and abetting fraud, and fraudulent transfer.

“Defendant BOA transferred the monies without any delay to confirm the source of the monies, the legitimacy of the transaction, without knowing the full and complete identities of the various individuals associated with the BOA account into which the funds were received, and without detecting the various indicia of fraud related to the account and those who up and used the account,” the complaint states.

Among his specific complaints is that Wells Fargo knew that its accounts were “exposed to penetration” from hackers and viruses, but never informed, instructed or advised him about the security needed to do online banking with it.

Jerry Dubrowski, a Bank of America spokesman, said “We have no comment at this time.”

Wells Fargo’s phony accounts scandal has generated more than 1,000 lawsuits against the bank this year, and more than $300 million in penalties, according to the Courthouse News database.

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