Wells Fargo is being forced to pay $185 million in fines after employees created over two million fake accounts, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said. The accounts date back as far as 2011.
"Wells Fargo employees secretly opened unauthorized accounts to hit sales targets and receive bonuses," director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Richard Cordray said in a press release Thursday. To meet sales numbers, employees opened deposit accounts while transferring money from existing accounts to fund them. They also applied for credit cards, issued debit cards, and enrolled customers in online banking with fake email addresses.
The CFPB reported Wells Fargo employees opened an astounding 1.5 million deposit accounts. "Employees then transferred funds from consumers’ authorized accounts to temporarily fund the new, unauthorized accounts," wrote the CFPB. "This widespread practice gave the employees credit for opening the new accounts, allowing them to earn additional compensation and to meet the bank's sales goals." Because money was removed from customers accounts they were charged for overdraft fees or fees for insufficient funds.
Employees also applied for 565,000 credit cards without customer permission, also resulting in fees for customers who had no idea the card was opened in their name. About 14,000 of those accounts made over $400,000 in fees for the bank, including overdraft protection fees. Employees went so far as to issue fake debit cards and activated them with fake pins.
As a result, Wells Fargo has fired 5,300 employees over several years, the bank told CNN Money.
As Fusion reported, former Wells Fargo employee Rita Murillo told the Los Angeles Times in 2013, "We were constantly told we would end up working for McDonald's. If we did not make the sales quotas…we had to stay for what felt like after-school detention, or report to a call session on Saturdays."
The CFPB also said Wells Fargo will refund money to customers affected.