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Huntington bank sues ex-workers

MCT REGIONAL NEWS

By Brandy Brubaker

The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va.

(MCT)

May 08--A lawsuit filed by Huntington National Bank claims six former employees stole more than 2,000 customer records before they quit to go work for the competition.

The bank filed the lawsuit in federal court against former vice president Sandra D. Kokoska, former assistant vice president Kimberly A. Barnum, and mortgage department employees, Stewart P. McCaw, Lisa A. Musgrave, Carrie J. Swaniger and Marcie A. Lipscomb.

The lawsuit alleges that the former employees committed a "brazen and egregious theft of trade secrets" when they abruptly resigned April 14 and opened a new loan origination office for MVB Bank in Cranberry Square, Morgantown, on April 18.

Huntington claims that the defendants spent weeks leading up to their resignations downloading and printing confidential customer records from the bank's secure database -- records they then used to solicit Huntington's existing and prospective customers.

"These customer records did not merely include customer names, addresses and telephone numbers," the lawsuit said. "In addition, the defendants took with them what is presently known to be over 2,000 customer Social Security numbers, dates of birth, bank account numbers, and other highly confidential, personal information of Huntington's customers, the unwitting victims of this theft."

The lawsuit also claims that the former employees took the files of some customers who had filed active mortgage loan applications -- files which included their paystubs, W-2s, tax returns and other sensitive information -- often without the customers' knowledge or consent.

Huntington discovered the alleged theft April 19 when a few customers called to ask why MVB was contacting them about the loans they had applied for at Huntington.

The investigation revealed that the defendants took about 200 completed mortgage applications and had changed some pending loan applications to look as though the customer had withdrawn their application, the lawsuit said.

Huntington claims the defendants immediately began contacting Huntington customers to convince them to switch to MVB -- including one customer who allegedly moved a more than $1 million mortgage to MVB.

Huntington said the defendants all signed confidentiality and noncompete documents during their employment.

The bank requested a trial by jury and is suing for an unspecified amount of damages.

The defendants are represented by Jacqueline Sikora, who did not respond in time for this report. MVB declined to comment.

Huntington Bank spokesman Bill Eiler released the following statement: "As soon as Huntington uncovered the incident, the bank notified the appropriate regulatory and law enforcement agencies and began a complete internal investigation. The bank is contacting all customers whose infor mation was affected. All customers with mortgage applications in process have been called by the appropriate mortgage representatives. We will continue to cooperate fully with the proper authorities."

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To see more of The Dominion Post or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.dominionpost.com/.

(c) 2011, The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.


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