Author Naomi Wolf Sues Bank, Says $300,000 Stolen From Accounts
Charging that more than $300,000 was stolen from her accounts, the author Naomi Wolf has filed a lawsuit accusing her bank of negligently failing to protect her money.
According to a New York State Supreme Court complaint, Wolf first detected “unexplained activity” on her three Washington Mutual checking accounts in 2005. The feminist writer contends that she diligently sought to “monitor the activity of her accounts,” but was thwarted when WaMu failed to send her monthly statements and denied access to her online account. Click here for a PDF copy of Wolf's lawsuit.
Though Wolf, 47, charges that the bank failed to safeguard her accounts, she did acknowledge in a TSG interview that, “I was not as careful as I should have been.” Wolf, pictured at right, apparently was so inattentive to her finances that money was stolen from her accounts for more than two years.
While the complaint does not identify a culprit, her lawyer, David Fish, said that a former assistant of Wolf’s was suspected of forging checks and stealing the writer’s ATM card and making unauthorized withdrawals. Fish said that police and prosecutors have been contacted about the thefts.
Wolf alleges that WaMu officials directed her to keep her accounts open while the bank’s “fraud investigators could determine who was stealing from her.” However, “money continued to be drained from the accounts, without any movement toward resolving the fraudulent activity.” While she took “reasonable steps to investigate and remedy the losses in her accounts,” Wolf alleges that WaMu sought to “cover its negligence” by impeding her efforts.
In one internal e-mail, a WaMu representative noted that the bank had denied a forgery claim filed by Wolf, a “noted author and journalist,” and were concerned that if they closed her accounts "we will wind up on the front page of the newspaper." In a second e-mail, a WaMu branch manager complained in May 2008 that Wolf is “still coming in to my office harassing my employees and pressing this issue and apparently needs some resolution to her case.”
Wolf filed her August 17 lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase, which purchased WaMu in mid-2008 from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation after the bank was placed into receivership.
[UPDATE: Wolf further describes her WaMu dealings in a Huffington Post story published this afternoon.]