Mexican immigrants who speak little English. Older adults with memory problems. College students opening their first bank accounts. Small-business owners with several lines of credit.These were some of the customers whom bankers at Wells Fargo, trying to meet steep sales goals and avoid being fired, targeted for unauthorized or unnecessary accounts, according to legal filings and statements from former bank employees.“The analogy I use was that it was like lions hunting zebras,” said Kevin Pham, a former Wells Fargo employee in San Jose, Calif., who saw it happening at the branch where he worked. “They would look for the weakest, the ones that would put up the least resistance.”At a branch in Scottsdale, Ariz., members of a local Native American community would arrive like clockwork every three months with checks for their share of the community’s casino revenue. It was then, said Ricky M. Hansen Jr., a former branch manager there, that some bankers would try to dupe them into opening unnecessary accounts laden with fees.In California, it was people with identification cards issued by Mexican consulates. The absence of a Social Security number made it simpler for Wells Fargo employees to open fraudulent accounts in those customers’ names. Wells Fargo is one of the few major banks to permit accounts to be opened without Social Security numbers.And in Illinois, one former teller described watching in frustration as older customers fell prey.“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,” Brandi Baker, who worked at a branch in Galesburg, Ill., said in an interview.
Friday, October 21, 2016
Good times. Nothing says integrity and quality banking like ripping off minorities, the elderly, non-English speakers, college students, and the disabled. And for those of you wondering "how could something like this happen at such a venerable institution like Wells Fargo?" I refer you to this study which found there are more psychopath CEO's and upper management on Wall Street and in Big Banking than there are in prison.
Firing these people (as Stumpf and others have now been let go via their golden parachutes) does nothing to make restitution to the victims of this massive fraud, nor does anything to prevent it from happening again.
However, if we could move a significant percentage of the upper management of Wells Fargo into a maximum security prison, and move the current sociopaths in prison out, society would be demonstrably safer.