Articles Tagged with #Wells Fargo fraud

Yesenia Jesse Guitron, a Wells Fargo employee in Napa County California who began working for Wells Fargo in 2008 complained to the company when she noticed some of her co-workers were offering to open free accounts which were actually premium accounts with heavy fees. She says she repeatedly complained to the company several times over the years about this but nothing was done. Thousands of customers were improperly charged, many became overdrawn and some had their credit wrecked. Guitron was fired in 2010, without warning. Guitron filed a lawsuit claiming Wells Fargo fired her for speaking out against the fraudulent practices she witnessed.

Now, more than seven years after being ousted from her job – a Bay Area journalists’ group is scheduled to honor Yesenia Guitron for her role in bringing her former company’s misdeeds to light. Guitron, who worked for Wells Fargo N.A.’s St. Helena branch from 2008 to 2010, will receive a James Madison Freedom of Information Award from the Society of Professional Journalists’ Northern California chapter. The ceremony is scheduled for March 27 in San Francisco, SPJ NorCal announced last month.
Guitron, who will receive the society’s award for whistleblowers, was one of several Wells Fargo workers to describe aggressive sales targets that compelled employees to open bank accounts, credit cards, mortgages and other services in customers’ names without their permission or knowledge. The revelation of the fake accounts starting in 2013 led to hundreds of millions in dollars in fines, the dismissal of more than 5,300 workers and the resignation of chief executive John Stumpf.

Wells Fargo has agreed to pay over $1 Billion in fines and penalties for fraudulently creating accounts without customers’ authorizations; forcing customers to pay fees the bank should have covered requiring borrowers to pay for insurance policies they did not need and in some cases pushing them into default. The bank paid $185  million to federal regulators in 2016.The Federal Reserve said that Wells Fargo had engaged in widespread consumer abuses and other compliance breakdowns. In addition, in March Wells Fargo reported to federal agencies that it has been asked about its wealth-management business which may have directed customers to inappropriate investments which benefitted the bank.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency are the regulators levying the penalty. Notably, the bureau is led by Mick Mulvaney, who wants the agency to take a gentler towards banks. Some analysts wonder whether the bank has been punished enough to alter its culture.Wells Fargo can afford the $1 Billion sanction as it earned a profit of $22.2 billion last year and $5.9 billion in this year’s first quarter.

Jeffrey A. Newman represents whistleblowers