ID Theft Victim Who Was 'Just A Number' Sues Wells Fargo

, Daily Business Review

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Carlos Gomez with daughter Bianca
Carlos Gomez with daughter Bianca

When Carlos Gomez's identity was stolen, his bank account wasn't drained. But the Miami man went to jail and nearly ended up in prison for a crime organized by an employee at his former bank.

An employee at Wachovia Bank, which was bought by Wells Fargo, admitted stealing Gomez's personal information from an account he closed in 2002 and using it to open up another account in a $1.1 million embezzlement.

Wells Fargo & Co. discovered the fraud and implicated Gomez, among other suspects. Gomez was arrested at gunpoint in his home in front of his three young daughters, jailed without bond for two weeks and spent another seven months on house arrest.

Now that charges have been dropped, the UPS driver wants the bank to pay for destroying his life. His federal lawsuit recently withstood a motion to dismiss by the bank.

"I want to let the world know my story, to see how these banks can be," Gomez said. "At the end of the day, they don't care about you. You are just a number. They didn't care if I rotted in jail for 20 years."

Gomez was arrested April 5, 2011, and charged with various crimes, including conspiracy to commit money laundering that carries a 20-year prison sentence.

Prosecutors accused Gomez of selling his identity to the thieves, but he passed a lie detector test, and none of the identity theft defendants knew Gomez.

His mother came to the rescue when she came across a box of items her son left at her home when he enlisted in the Marines. Old bank statements showed the account number was different from what Wells Fargo gave to federal prosecutors.

UPS records, weeks away from being destroyed as part of a routine purge, also showed Gomez was delivering packages across town when key withdrawals were made. The charges were dropped by the U.S. attorney's office in November 2011.

U.S. District Judge William Dimitrouleas in Fort Lauderdale, in his Jan. 7 order denying Wells Fargo's motion to dismiss, wrote, "As a customer of the bank, defendant had a duty, premised on 'a relation of trust and confidence,' to keep plaintiff's account information private, confidential and from being misused by others, including its employees."

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