Monday, April 25, 2016

Wells Fargo Bank opened two accounts in my name for a third party,without my knowledge or permission, or my signature on any bankdocuments, using a phony driver's license number and other fraudulentinformation about me

Several years ago, I hired a property management company to manage and maintain an out of state property that I owned in Utah.

The management company wanted me to give them full financial control of the property and in turn, they would pay the mortgage, property taxes, insurance, utilities, and any maintenance or repair costs incurred, from the more than ample income generated by the building as a HUD Affordable Housing complex. 

Because the subsidy checks from HUD were made payable to me, the management company also wanted me to give them permission to open business checking accounts in my name, so they could deposit the tenant rent checks, the checks from HUD, and write checks to pay the bills. An arrangement that I was not comfortable with.

On the day we executed our contract, the management company also gave me Wells Fargo - Account Authorization and Account Application forms to sign, which had already been pre-signed by three officers of the management company.

Because the building generated more than $100,000 per year in rents, and because I didn't know these people, or have any prior relationship with them, I was more than just a little uncomfortable with the idea of giving them unrestricted access to that much money.

I told the management company that I wanted to investigate alternative banking and bill pay methods, and I left their offices with the Wells Fargo Account Application and Authorization forms they had given me, and I never signed them. (below)

I still have those documents today. They are still unsigned by me and they have never been out of my possession since the day the management company gave them to me

A few weeks later, I unexpectedly received a Wells Fargo ATM card in the mail. I contacted Wells Fargo's Customer Service to ask them why they had sent me the card and what it was for. The Customer Service representative told me that the card was associated with the accounts I had recently opened in Utah.  I told her that I had not opened any accounts in Utah, but she insisted that I had, and then put me in contact with the branch office where the accounts had been opened. 

The Business Accounts Manager at the branch informed me that the management company had opened the accounts, and then reassured me that the bank had obtained all the required documentation to open the accounts and no account fraud had occurred.

He lied
I told the Business Accounts Manager that I had not authorized the bank, the management company, or anyone else to open accounts for me. I also told him about the management company asking me to sign a Wells Fargo Account Authorization and Application, and that because I was not comfortable with that arrangement, I never signed those documents and left their offices with them in my hand.

Once more, the Business Accounts Manager reassured me that the accounts had been opened properly and no fraud had occurred.

Again, he was lying 
He also told me that the bank had obtained all of the required supporting documentation and necessary items, including a signature card, my identification, and proof of a DBA filing, at the time the accounts were opened. (which would have been impossible considering that I did not sign any bank documents, or give anyone copies of my identification and I never filed a DBA, or authorized anyone to open bank accounts). 

Nevertheless, the Business Account's Manager continued to insist that the bank had received everything required to open the accounts. Then, to reassure me he said, I must have signed another set of documents and the management company used them to open the accounts.

Wells Fargo lied to me and led me to believe that the accounts had been opened with all of the proper supporting documentation that anyone opening business accounts would be required by law to provide to the bank. 

Since arrangements needed to be made anyways that would enable the management company to pay the bills, and since the accounts were already open, I allowed them to stay open, because certainly the bank I had done business with for nearly 20-years in California wouldn't lie to me... Right? 

For the next 4-years, the management company repeatedly told me that everything was going great and that the building was running smoothly, and aside from the exceedingly high maintenance and repair costs, I had no reason not to believe them....until one day, I received a voicemail message from them, telling me that a woman had been brutally murdered on the property. Shortly after that, I learned that just weeks earlier, another woman had been violently raped at gunpoint inside her apartment. 

I made the decision to find another management company to take the building over, and I traveled to Utah over the Thanksgiving holiday to make the change, but before I could get there, the management company wrote three checks to themselves totaling nearly $7,000. and cashed them at Wells Fargo Bank, effectively draining the accounts of funds. 

As it turned out, the check numbers matched gaps that had been maintained in the check numbering sequence by the management company, which Wells Fargo immediately identified, noting that their risk models show that when gaps are maintained in the check numbers, it enables someone to write a check that would appear to have been written at an earlier date. Wells Fargo also noted that their risk models show that the presence of such gaps, are often an indicator of check fraud. The checks were also for uncharacteristically high dollar amounts, another risk model indicator of fraud, yet Wells Fargo cashed the checks anyways, despite these glaring red flags for fraud, and never even bothered to investigate, or mention it to me. 

When I arrived at my building, I barely recognized it. It had become a run down dilapidated tenement. Although required to under our contract together, the management company had not maintained the property, by any known standard of care, yet they had spent every last dime that the building had generated over four years (over $400,000), and they wanted more. 
The photos below show the condition of my building 
Top: On the day I hired the Management Co. 
Bottom: On the day our contract ended

Because the management company continued to write checks on the building's accounts after our contract terminated, I went into the Wells Fargo branch where they had opened the accounts, advised them of the situation, and asked them to close the existing accounts and open replacement accounts with different account numbers.

The Wells Fargo Branch Manager closed the existing accounts, but then refused to open the replacements, because none of the required supporting documentation for the accounts was on file with the bank. There was no proof of a DBA filing with the state. No signature card was on file for me. The bank didn't even have an Account Application or Authorization with my signature or proof of identification on it, and for three very good reasons.

1. I never signed any bank documents or authorized anyone to open bank accounts for me, so the bank would not have had my signature. 

2.  The bank didn't have proof of a DBA filing, because a DBA never existed. Since I never planned to allow the management company to open bank  accounts, there would have been no reason for me to file a DBA . 

3. The bank didn't have copies of my identification on file, because I never gave my identification to anyone, or allowed anyone to make copies of it, which would explain why there's a phony driver's license number listed for me on the  account creation documents that Wells Fargo had on file. 

What was really happening was, the branch manager realized that for whatever reason, the accounts had been opened in the total absence of the required supporting documentation or any of the primary account holder's identifying information, and he wasn't about to commit the same crime again by opening the replacement accounts for me without obtaining those items first. 

Even with my identification in hand, Wells Fargo refused to open the replacement accounts for me, until I provided them with proof of a DBA filing with the state and signed the proper bank documents. 

So, I contacted the management company and asked them for the DBA documents they must have filed in order to open the accounts. Their response spoke volumes.
By their own admission, the management company never even bothered to file a DBA with the state, and why would they? They had a friend at Wells Fargo who would open the accounts without one. 

Obviously, the management company had a contact at Wells Fargo, who was high enough up on the ladder to be able to sidestep federal requirements and bypass bank policy.

I asked the branch manager how the accounts could have possibly been opened in the absence of these items, and he told me that Wells Fargo would not have opened them... but they did
He also added that even if they were somehow opened without the required supporting documentation, the bank's computer system would have red flagged the accounts and they would have been closed after 30-days... but somehow that never happened, because the management company's contact at the bank was making sure that it didn't happen.

The fact is that, not only did Wells Fargo knowingly open the accounts in violation of Federal banking requirements,  they also failed to close them in 30-days when the required supporting documentation was not received. In fact, Wells Fargo went well out of their way to cover up what they had done for 4-years, while the management company ran my building into the ground and were apparently using the accounts they opened as their own private little piggy banks. 

I asked Wells Fargo for a written explanation as to how and why they opened two checking accounts in my name for somebody else, without my signature and identification, or proof of a DBA filing with the state, and why they allowed those accounts to remain open for four years without telling me, when I was listed as the primary account holder,  but they refused to respond, or cooperate with me further.

Wells Fargo wasn't about to admit in writing that one or more of their employees knowingly opened accounts without obtaining any of the items or documentation that is required by law to open business bank accounts... as a favor for a friend

When I asked the management company to turn over all of the banking materials that were associated with the accounts, they told me that there were no checks in existence because they were computer generated, and that all deposit slip books and records had been shredded, in accordance with their company's annual shredding policy. 
Why would the management company shred banking materials?
Unless they were trying to hide something... Like evidence of fraudulent accounts?

A few days later, a lesser informed employee of the management company, who was not aware that I had already been told the deposit slip books and records had been shredded, turned over every deposit slip book that had ever been issued for the accounts over 4 years.
They were in remarkably good condition considering they had reportedly been shredded.

That's when I turned to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) for help.