The Fruits of Civilization (26-12-1) Wells Fargo

 Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo is committed to putting our customers’ interests first 100% of the time. ~ Wells Fargo

For years, Wells Fargo, one of the world’s largest banks, committed fraud on its customers in many ways. The bank secretly opened accounts and issued credit cards without customer consent. Customers were unknowingly signed up for online banking services with fake email accounts. Victims only found out about sham accounts after they started accumulating fees. All told, Wells Fargo opened over 3.5 million unauthorized bank accounts, and created nearly a million credit cards that went nowhere, but for which customers incurred charges.

Those who took out student loans at Wells Fargo were deprived of the information needed to manage their accounts, and bilked illegal fees. The bank illicitly signed up 490,000 auto-loan customers for insurance they didn’t need. Wells Fargo made tens of thousands of unauthorized changes to mortgage contracts: extending loans by decades, thereby raising the interest that borrowers would have to pay.

It was like lions hunting zebras. They would look for the weakest, the ones that would put up the least resistance. ~ former Wells Fargo employee Kevin Pham

We had customers of all ages, but the elderly ones would at times be targeted, because they don’t ask many questions about fees and such. ~ former Wells Fargo employee Brandi Baker

Wells Fargo employees felt pressured to commit immoral and illegal acts from the aggressive greed culture honed by company executives for decades. Those who played by the rules and failed to meet unattainable quotas were punished for it.

If you weren’t willing to engage in these types of illegal practices, they just booted you out the door and replaced you. ~ American attorney Jonathan Delshad

Some of the deceptions were finally caught by regulators in 2016, and Wells Fargo fined $185 million, which is about how much money the bank makes in a single day.

Wells Fargo chief John Stumpf resigned in the wake of sham-account scandal. Unlike the exotica of previous shenanigans, with their financial complexities, the misdeeds here were straightforward: under intense pressure from management to meet sales goals, employees committed fraud. Stumpf, who was grossly overpaid during his tenure, never took responsibility for the culture he had engendered. (Stumpf’s compensation was partly based upon the fraud his leadership perpetrated: supposed growth that never occurred.)

In 2018–2019 Wells Fargo paid nearly $2 billion in fines and settlements for its misdeeds. Defrauded customers were not given their money back nor the damage to their credit reputation restored.