Out of the hundreds of corporate scandals that begot securities class action litigations and SEC sanctions, the Wells Fargo fake account scandal has to be one of the most fascinating. Or disturbing, maddening, or even comical, depending on your temperment. Personally, I like "Orwellian."
In case you forget the details, (a lot has happened since September of 2016 when the news broke), here is a brief summary: Wells Fargo tried to increase the number of accounts by cross-selling bank products to their own clients. Er, I mean "customers." Wells Fargo bosses preferred the term "customers," and instead of bankers they preferred "sales people," which one might argue was the seed of the problem right there. In pairing Orwellian language with onerous work conditions, the sales people/bankers were required to meet a daily quota of "solutions," such as pushing new credit cards and mortgages to customers that did not want or need them.
New financial accounts are not like, say, groceries. I personally need to eat on a regular basis, but I do not have to open new accounts more than every several years. Somehow I survive. I will go out on a limb and assume that most people both eat and manage their money in a similar way as me. I am probably right because the cross-selling quotas could not be met.
And so Wells Fargo's sales-people got creative. They created over 1.5 million checking accounts and 500,000 credit card accounts without any customer's authorization. Who was "they"? A lot of people. Eventually, according to Matt Levine's summary from 2016, some 5,300 Wells Fargo sales people were fired. As Levine put it,
"This looks more like a vast uprising of low-paid and ill-treated Wells Fargo employees against their bosses... Five thousand three hundred employees! You'd have a tough time organizing 5,300 people into a conspiracy, which makes me think that this was less a conspiracy and more a spontaneous revolt."
Late Friday afternoon, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a press release announcing a $500 million Fair Fund as part of an overall $3 billion settlement with the SEC and the Department of Justice. The class period will span 2012 to 2016. There are no claim forms available yet and no filing deadline has been set, but if you think you might qualify for this settlement-- or any other upcoming securities or financial settlement--then please let us know. We'd be happy to help you file a claim.
I should here admit that there is one little catch to using our services: Unlike some enterprising Wells Fargo employees, our sales team cannot just sign you up whenever they feel like it, so we will have to actually talk--like to each other-- about a service that is right for you.
I know, so old fashioned.