Lawmaker Presents Wells Fargo With Evidence Of Potential Account Fraud From 2007

Image courtesy of Colin

At yesterday’s contentious House Financial Services Committee hearing on the Wells Fargo fake account fiasco, CEO John Stumpf said his bank was reviewing accounts going back to 2009 to see how long employees had been opening new accounts in customers’ names without authorization. Now one member of Congress says there is evidence indicating that this sort of bad behavior goes back nearly a decade.

In a letter [PDF] sent today to Stumpf, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY) asks the CEO to extend the bank’s review to 2007.

At yesterday’s hearing, Maloney referenced documents that she believes shows that bank employees were up to no good in 2007 and asked Stumpf if he would commit to expanding the account review if he were president with credible evidence.

Taking Stumpf up on his sworn pledge that he would “leave no stone unturned,” Maloney sent these documents along with her letter to the CEO.

The documents involve a lawsuit filed by six former Wells Fargo employees who accused the bank of wrongful termination.

According to the amended complaint [PDF] from 2009, these workers were accused by bank management of reordering debit cards without customer authorization.

They claimed at the time they were just doing what their branch manager had instructed them to do. In another document [PDF], one of these former employees says she became suspicious about these directions from her manager so she made a call to the bank’s EthicsLine hotline to complain “that her supervisor was making them call [customers] and issue unsolicited [debit cards] that had already been validated by Wells Fargo.” These cards, per the plaintiff did not come with the disclosures required by law, nor had they been validated “in response to the consumer’s oral or written request for validation, after the institution has verified the consumer’s identity.”

The plaintiffs alleged that it was this complaint to the EthicsLine that got them fired, but not any of the male employees or managers who had instructed the workers or acted similarly.

Maloney contends that the actions described in these documents is strikingly similar to some of the gaming that occurred in more recent years as Wells Fargo employees opened up unauthorized accounts in order to meet bank-enforced sales quotas.

Also, the allegations of retaliation against a purported whistleblower echoes statements made by former Wells workers in the last few weeks.

“I ask that you consider this evidence a stone, and turn it over,” writes Maloney in the letter to Stumpf. “Moreover, in light of this evidence that I am enclosing that these same illegal practices were occurring as far back as 2007, I request that you formally extend Wells Fargo’s review of accounts back to — at least — 2007.”

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.