Wells Fargo Fires Customer Service Rep For Using Cardboard Dime At Laundromat 50 Years Ago

Big banks are under a lot of pressure these days not to mess anything up — but in the case of firing employees for crimes they committed decades ago, are they overreacting? A Wells Fargo customer service worker says his recent termination stemming from an incident in 1963 is totally unnecessary. His crime? Using a cardboard cutout of a dime in a Laundromat washing machine.

The 68-year-old man was fired from Wells Fargo Home Mortgage under new employment guidelines, the same rules that saw a Milwaukee woman lose her job in May over a 40-year-old crime. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.’s tougher standards for bank employees were enacted in May 2011, and are supposed to get rid of executives and mid-level bank employees who’ve committed crimes like identity theft and money laundering.

The man was convicted of operating a coin-changing machine by false means, a crime he told the Des Moines Register was a “stupid stunt,” but because he spent two days in jail as a result, he doesn’t qualify for a free pass from the FDIC’s automatic waiver system. Another program will let employees try to show they’re still fit to work at a bank even if they’ve been convicted, but that takes about six months to a year.

Wells Fargo spokeswoman Angela Kaipust responded to the Des Moines Register to confirm the firing: “The expectations that have been placed on us and all financial institutions have never been higher,” she said.

A local attorney is in the process of helping the man complete the FDIC waiver application process, adding that he’s not the kind of employee the FDIC guidelines are going after.

“These guidelines are really meant for executives and people who can perpetuate widespread fraud,” said the attorney.

*Thanks for the tip, Lenny!

Wells Fargo fires Des Moines worker for laundromat incident 49 years ago [Des Moines Register]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Shtetl G says:

    I, for one, feel much safer.


    • Blueskylaw says:

      And yet the people who caused the worldwide economic catastrophe not only didn’t go to jail nor lose their job, they got raises, bonuses, and free money from the government.

      • MarkFL says:

        If you want to get away with a crime, you have to make sure it’s a really, really big one.

      • fleef says:

        you’re darn right! And some have literally stolen money- millions, perhaps billions. Truly disgusting. Theft is never right, but fair’s fair. This man’s “crime” of using what we used to call a “wooden nickel” is almost prank-worthy, not outright “criminal”. To quote the bible- woe to those who steal from widows and orphans. The bankers have practically done such. My only wish is that I am on this planet long enough to see them get their reward.

    • MeowMaximus says:

      Wells Fargo should be fired – into the Sun!

  2. Jane_Gage says:

    I’m having difficulty understanding the mechanics of this. Wouldn’t you have to shellac the cardboard to even get it in there, let alone make it work?

    • David says:

      If you used cardboard about as thick as a dime, it would probably be hard enough to hold while the dial was turned to operate the internal switch. When I was a kid, there was a dryer in a laundromat that could be turned on just by quickly tweaking the dial a few times. The mechanisms were pretty simple to avoid having to repair them often.

  3. Invader Zim says:

    Wow, “who’ve committed crimes like identity theft and money laundering.” guess that cardboard cut out some how qualifies as money laundering. uh who’d thought.

  4. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    “These guidelines are really meant for executives and people who can perpetuate widespread fraud.”

    This action makes me less likely to ever deal with Wells Fargo again. If they would have let the guy keep his job, I would have felt better about it. Lots of people do lots of stupid things when they’re teenagers. That doesn’t mean that 50 years later the long arm of Johnny Law (or bank in this case) should swoop down from above and hammer them.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      They can’t let the guy keep his job. FDIC rules prohibit it. That’s why he has to go through the FDIC waiver process.

    • bhr says:

      Because they should have violated the law?

      Just because the law was written hastily without considering cases like this doesn’t mean that a company can ignore it.

    • Costner says:

      Yes they should risk massive penalties by the FDIC and other government regulators all to protect this guy who has a criminal record.

      That makes sense.

      The outrage here (if you wish to express any) should be directed at the FDIC and the regulations… not those who are following them.

      • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

        My thoughts were more along the lines of – the guy was a teenager, who did a stupid thing – and it’s 50 years later. I totally get the bank has to follow the letter of the law. It’s too bad banks don’t follow other laws, like not robo-signing foreclosures, and that sort of thing, that cause much more trouble than keeping a CSR that made a cardboard dime 50 years ago.

      • dolemite says:

        My outrage is at the law itself. It’s obviously the same as the TSA: an feel-good measure.

        Let’s say this law was in place 15 years ago. Would it have prevented the illegal and immoral actions that occurred in our banking industry? No. Those people, despite being criminals were never convicted. This guy was convicted of a petty crime as a teenager, and it’s almost guaranteed he has been honest since. Does this law even do anything for us today? No, because everyone involved in the scandals have their jobs and were convicted of nothing, despite lying to investors and customers.

      • miguelggarcia says:

        Exactly right! It’s not Wells Fargo choice to terminate the employee, they’re just following the rules imposed by the government.
        A less misleading title would be something like “Employee Terminated from Wells Fargo Due to Excessive FDIC Regulation”

    • wmibizownr says:

      “These guidelines are really meant for executives and people who without the blessings of the CEO or BoD, who can perpetuate widespread fraud”

      there fixed it for you.

    • George4478 says:

      is the FDIC saying that’s who the guidelines are meant for? They’re the ones enforcing the guidelines and issuing fines, so unless they explicitly state this as their policy, I don’t blame Wells Fargo.

      It’s not like we haven’t seen laws and regulation designed for one purpose being used to nail people they weren’t meant to. I’m thinking the good ol’ non-inflation-adjusted Alternative Minimum Tax, for one.

  5. thomwithanh says:

    Even if he gets the FDIC waiver I seriously doubt any bank is going to hire him again.

    • jsibelius says:

      Are you kidding? Some local bank would probably jump at the opportunity to hire him. It’s positive PR, and probably an excellent employee to boot.

  6. dush says:

    Just another regulation written by the banks. Lobbyists get it into law and then they get to strip longtime employees of benefits and retirement.

    • lyontaymer30 says:

      Well, I’m pretty sure he didn’t disclose the crime. And the fact he didn’t disclose it is more of a reason for his firing than anything. I’m 99% sure if he would have disclosed it and they hired him, this would be a non-issue.

      If I hire a person and they lie about this, I’d fire them too just based on that. The contract specifically states if you lie about this you will get fired.

      • msbaskx2 says:

        I’m 99% sure if he would have disclosed it and they hired him, this would be a non-issue.

        What makes you think that?

        The linked article states: “The regulatory rules forbid the employment of anyone convicted of a crime involving dishonesty, breach of trust or money laundering” and goes on to say “There is also a process for automatic waiver that works more quickly but is limited to people who were sentenced to less than year of jail time and never spent a day locked up. Eggers, who was jailed two days, doesn’t qualify.”

        There doesn’t seem to be an exception for people who disclose crimes upfront. It would appear that had he been honest, he wouldn’t have been hired in the first place (assuming he was hired after these guidelines went into effect).

        And for the record: Penalizing a man for a 50-year old crime that amounted to theft a dime is ludicrous.

      • Captain Spock says:

        You are not required on most job applications to disclose anything more than 7 or 10 years old.

  7. PragmaticGuy says:

    The guy is 68. He’s probably pension eligible from Wells Fargo anyhow and is able to collect full social security benefits. Maybe it’s just time to retire.

    • msbaskx2 says:

      I didn’t get the impression that he’s been working for them for a long-time. They said he’s a CSR making about $28k.

  8. Sarek says:

    I once asked for my allowance 2 days earlier. I guess I was guilty of financial market manipulation and should be fired.

  9. DataRaider says:

    I wonder if they are being fired for having a record, or for lying on their applications about their criminal past. I know the financial industry has to do background checks on all new employees and this includes having the FBI run fingerprints (I work in the industry and have had it done), so they will see your past. I have already seen new hires fired for lying about it.

    • frank64 says:

      It says he was fired for the record itself and that is exactly what the law dictates. There is no out for prior disclosure.

  10. dolemite says:

    “Wells Fargo spokeswoman Angela Kaipust responded to the Des Moines Register to confirm the firing: “The expectations that have been placed on us and all financial institutions have never been higher,” IE: Hey, we reamed America and helped melt down the financial system,with no real consequences for us, but blame this firing on Obama.

    • miguelggarcia says:

      They “helped melt down the financial system” with the help of Clinton’s administration rules, let me remind you that some banks were threatened with discrimination lawsuits if they didn’t lend money to extremely high risk borrowers that wouldn’t qualify to a mortgage due to their income.
      So yes, financial institutions “created” the meltdown, but they wouldn’t have done it without the pressure from the government to lend money to “everyone” that asked for it.

      • ARP3 says:

        That’s crap. It’s that they wouldn’t lend to minorities, based on where the property was, not because they were high risk from a financial perspective. The banks decided on their own to lend money to high risk borrowers (especially in the 2000’s) because they could borrow money from the Fed for practically nothing.

      • MarkFL says:

        The Clinton Administration did not require shenanigans such as credit default swaps.

  11. Suburban Idiot says:

    As we all know, causing a worldwide financial meltdown four years ago is not as bad as using a cardboard dime nearly a half century ago.

  12. kcvaliant says:

    He gets canned for that. But the higher ups and execs that defraud and deceive customers keep their jobs or get gigantic severences.

  13. Overheal says:

    Article: “Your Potential Future Is More Interesting Than Your Past”

    Wells Fargo: “You ripped someone off by a dime 50 Years ago? You’re fired.”

  14. Lexia says:

    oooo.. I see someone at wells fargo got a raise today ^_^

  15. Mr. Bill says:

    A dime! that’s real money, not like the hundreds of billions the bankers stole form the world.

  16. AngryK9 says:

    Meanwhile, Wells Fargo executives continue to find new and more subtle ways to bilk millions, nay, billions, out of the general populace in some form or another on a daily basis….