The Miami Herald reports that Carlos M. Gomez, 36, of Kendall, Fla., is suing Wells Fargo for "malicious prosecution" after he was jailed and charged with money laundering when his identity was stolen by a Wachovia Bank employee (h/t DataBreaches.net).
Federal agents charged into Gomez's home before dawn, handcuffed him, and placed him in a federal detention center after a Wachovia Bank employee (Wachovia is now part of Wells Fargo) stole Gomez's identity and used it to launder part of $1.1 million the employee had stolen from bank customers.
Almost two weeks later, after paying a $100,000 bond with family members' help, Gomez was released but remained under house arrest. He spent the next seven months working to clear his name.
The breakthrough came when he asked a Wells Fargo clerk to look up the address matching his checking account number. It wasn't his.
"I blame the bank because they started the whole thing," Gomez told the Herald. "They were so clueless about what they did. They should have called me in the first place to verify my account and signature and none of this would have ever happened."
In a lawsuit filed in September 2013, Gomez's lawyers claimed that bank officials were reckless in failing to protect Gomez's confidential account information and in failing to provide accurate information about him to federal authorities. Last month, U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas rejected Wells Fargo's bid to throw out the case.
Wells Fargo spokeswoman Michelle Palomino told the Herald that the bank plans to "vigorously" fight the lawsuit.
"This is an unfortunate situation, and Wells Fargo regrets that it is in litigation with Mr. Gomez,” Palomino said. “We don’t believe the facts we have and the applicable law support the claims made regarding the role of Wells Fargo and the circumstances that preceded his arrest."