Since the mortgage meltdown that occurred in 2008, which resulted in a major global recession that nearly destroyed the U.S. economy, Wells Fargo Bank has been under investigation for unscrupulous practices.
As part of a Senate investigation, Wells Fargo revealed that there were about 2.5 million accounts that were fake, not authorized by the official policies of the bank, and in violation of numerous federal regulations. That is bad enough, however, there is more to this story now.
CNBC reported that under the internal investigation by the bank itself there are now one million or up to 1.4 million more fake accounts for individuals and small businesses in the Wells Fargo system. This brings the total to around 3.5 million up to 3.9 million fake accounts.
The reason this happened is that job performance reviews of staff that helped set up new accounts included extremely high pressure to perform at levels that were not sustainable. In order to keep their jobs, they had to open new accounts at a pace that was basically insane. There simply were not enough legitimate customers to be able to accomplish this.
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The bank itself benefiting greatly by adding these new fake accounts to its register. This illegal practice is called "sandbagging." Millions of these fake accounts were created using false information, and are in violation of the rules. Some accounts were opened on a Friday with $0.25, only to be closed three days later on Monday. These are the accounts that have now come under federal scrutiny, resulting in close to 4,000 Wells Fargo employees lost their jobs over this issue. Jim Cramer of the Squawk Alley television show called Wells Fargo a rogue bank and said its board should all be fired.
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Meanwhile, Wells Fargo Bank has brutally enforced foreclosures, showing no sympathy for its existing customers, and making such things as refinancing to lower rates on mortgage loans very difficult for those in arrears. Customers complain to the federal regulators that Wells Fargo Bank’s tactics are extremely heavy handed. While some are attacked by the bank for becoming delinquent in their payments, others who are due to receive money through the Wells Fargo system, such as money for flood relief, are forced to wait extraordinary long times before Wells Fargo releases their money to them.
Banks in the USA have been challenged for excessive overdraft fees, predatory lending, rule violations, and even criminal fraud. It appears that the investigation of Wells Fargo is uncovering the very worst operations of an American bank, which now, even by the bank’s own admission, is more severe than previously expected.