California Investigating Wells Fargo For Criminal Identity Theft

Image courtesy of Mike Mozart

In a piece of heartening consumer justice news, it’s recently become public that the state of California is conducting a criminal investigation against Wells Fargo for identity theft. Earlier this month, the state served a search warrant on the bank, which asks for information about customers with fake accounts, and the identities of the bankers who opened those accounts.

The Los Angeles Times obtained the warrant, which was served more than two weeks ago, using a public records request. The state seeks records on accounts opened by employees in California for both California residents and out-of-state customers. Wells Fargo’s headquarters is in San Francisco.

Is the state pursuing criminal charges against the bank itself or the individual bankers who opened the accounts? The office for California attorney General Kamala Harris won’t say since the investigation is ongoing, and Wells Fargo representatives wouldn’t discuss the matter with the Los Angeles Times except to say that the company is cooperating with the investigation.

The statement of probable cause for the search warrant points out that employees had to access some pieces of customer information without the customers’ permission, using parts of the company’s computer systems that they weren’t supposed to.

Federal prosecutors in three cities, including San Francisco, have opened their own criminal investigations against Wells Fargo over this particular scandal. Rage against the megabank happens to be a popular sentiment, and AG Harris is a candidate for the U.S. Senate this Election Day.

Statement of probable cause for Wells Fargo search warrant [Los Angeles Times]

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