SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Three people posing as Merrill Lynch recruiters conned job seekers into revealing their bank account numbers by claiming they needed the information to make direct deposits into their accounts, Merrill Lynch claims in Federal Court.
Merrill Lynch says the three people “hatched a nefarious plot” and created the domain email address “merrilllynchcareers.com” and an account on the job search site CareerBuilder.com to lure job applicants with correspondence that appeared to “come from and be authorized by Merrill Lynch.”
Defendants Michael Lenning, Lisa Rains and John Anderson “are engaging in a fraudulent scheme to harvest bank account numbers from unsuspecting individuals searching for jobs,” Merrill says in its complaint.
It says the defendants got the private banking information by promising that if accepted into a “paid training program,” applicants would have their paychecks deposited directly into their accounts.
Lenning runs a business out of a P.O. Box in Santa Clara, and Rains and Anderson are his associates or employees, according to the complaint.
Merrill Lynch claims the defendants “hatched a nefarious plot” on Aug. 25, “to collect banking information from individuals by preying on people who are merely looking for job in difficult economic times.”
Merrill says it found out about the scam two days after it began, after receiving complaints from confused job-seekers.
“Since that time, it has been working with CareerBuilder to remove the fraudulent links and with Yahoo! to close email accounts using Merrill Lynch’s marks,” Merrill says in its complaint.
A spokeswoman for CareerBuilder denied that any of the illicit correspondence had occurred through its site.
“This was a spoofing scam where they pretended to send something through CareerBuilder when they had not accessed our site or sent any communications through our site,” said CareerBuilder.com spokeswoman Jennifer Grasz. CareerBuilder is not named as a defendant in the complaint.
Merrill Lynch demands $500,000 in damages. Its attorney, Kevin Holl with Gordon-Creed and Kelly, was unavailable for comment.