Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Former Wells Fargo VP, after victim of a purse snatching, is falsely arrested for id theft: major story on NBC Today

The NBC Today show recently reported one of the worst cases of identity theft ever. A retired Wells Fargo Bank vice president, Margot Somerville, was accused of identity theft in Colorado under what seems like an incredible set of coincidences.

The complete story appears in the San Francisco Chronicle, by Susan Sward, “A strange case of identity theft”, March 22, 2009, link here.

The story started when her wallet was stolen on a streetcar in San Francisco in 2006. Five months later, money started disappearing from her accounts. Through a series of connected incidents, the bank and police came to believe that she had masterminded a scheme, and claimed that her handwriting matched that on forged documents (signed by another woman shown in the video below and captured on security cameras). It would sound, off hand, as if her background as a Wells Fargo vice president could have confused “appearances.”

Her ordeal started when she was on a California golf course, and she got a cell phone call from police in Colorado that she was about to be arrested.

The story goes on to explain how banks sometimes suspect people who complain of identity theft, because some convoluted schemes are possible this way.

Eventually the charges were dropped because of the lack of likelihood of conviction. She may litigate to get $50000 of attorney’s fees back.

The Today show has an interview between Margot, her son Todd Harris, and correspondent Matt Lauer here. Lauer emphasized that she actually “did everything right” but was still targeted as a suspect by police. I wondered how the police and bank could have lost track of the money trail, because obviously it didn’t show up in her accounts.

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