Wells Fargo sent its bankers and tellers, especially those of Latino descent to go out and scout the streets and Social Security offices to fish for clients and specifically to located undocumented immigrants to take them to local branches and get them to open new bank accounts, according to the sworn statements of former Wells Fargo employees in a shareholder lawsuits filed against the company. Some went to construction sites and factories, according to the court documents. Wells Fargo employees promised the immigrants to waive check-cashing fees knowing they needed a place to cash their checks. Some offered the immigrants money to open an account according to the documents. They also state that the more people signed up, whether it was for checking and savings accounts, credit and debit cards, online banking or overdraft protection, the better. If they signed up for all of the features, even better. Each new account was considered a sale, and the more sales employees rack up, the better their future was with the company.
Former bank managers, personal bankers and tellers say they were forced to resort to questionable tactics to meet the company’s unrealistic sales quotas.
In September, Wells Fargo was forced to pay $185 million in regulatory penalties following revelations that more than 2 million bank and credit card accounts were opened on behalf of customers without their knowledge. The fraudulent accounts netted more than $2 million in fees charged to customers for services they didn’t sign up for.