Wells Fargo is the barrel of bad apples that keeps on giving. According to the Times, the financial titan discovered an additional 1.4 million “suspect accounts” on Thursday:
Wells Fargo said on Thursday that an internal review of its potentially fraudulent bank accounts had uncovered a total of 3.5 million such accounts, some 1.4 million more than it had previously estimated. The bank also raised a new issue: unauthorized enrollments of customers in the bank’s online bill payment service. Wells Fargo said that it had found 528,000 cases in which customers may have been signed up without their knowledge or consent, and will refund $910,000 to customers who incurred fees or charges.
That’s an approximate increase of two thirds—even more bunk accounts than we thought. Last year, the bank agreed to settle with the government over three different lawsuits. Wells Fargo paid an estimated $185 million to settle the phony-account suits.
Additionally, the Times reported that the bank had added half a million accounts into online bill-paying services without permission. The new revelations raised disturbing questions about the testimony of former Wells CEO John Stumpf. Stumpf, a one-time stalwart of the financial giant, pleaded his case before Congress in September of 2016. The government’s pleasure with Stumpf’s performance has proved fleeting. Wells Fargo keeps withdrawing from the public trust.
The mounting infractions at Wells Fargo are getting hard to track without a scorecard. Unrequested auto insurance that affected 800,000 people — check. Unauthorized changes to mortgage repayment terms in bankruptcy — check. Improper withholding of refunds to some car loan customers — check. ... When asked if any other fraudulent activities had been uncovered across the bank, he indicated that problems were limited to the unauthorized accounts opened by the Community Banking unit.
As consumer protection lobbies called for a new round of Congressional investigation, progressives retweeted the news. Nobody was that surprised. Routine horror was the order of the day:
Industry experts predicted future trouble for the scandal-surrounded institution. Their reputation is tanking, and will continue to tank.
Jaret Seiberg, an analyst at Cowen Washington Research Group, predicted the latest news means the political and legal “spotlight will continue to shine brightly on Wells Fargo.” “Every new disclosure seems to expand the scope of the bank’s troubles, which creates the perception that the scandal is getting bigger rather than going away,” Seiberg wrote in a report on Thursday.
When it comes to square dealing with its customers, Wells Fargo’s account has yet to be balanced.