A Florida woman launched a class-action lawsuit against Wells Fargo Bank after employees created millions of fraudulent accounts nationwide.
Brandon resident Nadine Stanton is suing on behalf of herself and others affected by the fraudulent accounts created by employees of the California-based banking giant. Stanton is a practice manager at United Vein Centers.
Stanton is claiming to be one of thousands of victims of the bank’s “colossal scheme” where they broke the law in numerous ways including using private information and data without consent.
Without permission of customers, employees performed several unauthorized tasks — opened accounts, transferred funds, applied for credit cards, received debit cards, and enrolled in online banking services.
Funds from authorized accounts would be transferred into the accounts that were opened without the client’s knowledge.
Additionally, at least 565,000 customers had applied for and opened credit cards in their names. These credit cards then negatively impacted credit scores and amassed additional fees.
According to an analysis by Wells Fargo, more than 2 million unauthorized accounts were opened.
Upon opening their accounts, every customer is required to provide private information to the bank, such as Social Security numbers and addresses.
All employees have access to client information on the banks centralized database.
“Cross-selling” is a strategy used by the bank “to leverage its current customers into purchasing more Wells Fargo products or using more Wells Fargo services,” per the suit.
There was an enormous pressure put onto employees to cross-sell. Financial incentives were provided to employees for getting more customers to sign up. Similarly, those who failed to cross-sell could face termination.
To avoid this, a widespread practice began among employees where they would open unauthorized accounts under client’s names.
By putting unachievable quotas on its employees, the suit says the bank was inducing unlawful actions.
Wells Fargo has fired nearly 5,300 employees that were accused of misusing the client information.
Stanton claims that there hasn’t been an effort on the banks end to contact those affected by this con.
In the suit, Stanton is seeking damages on behalf of all affected customers in Florida for “negligence, identity theft, invasion of privacy, unfair and deceptive trade practices, and negligent supervision of employees.”
Like other Wells Fargo customers, Stanton acknowledged she agreed to an arbitration clause when she opened her account. However, the suit argues that court action is appropriate in this case, since the bank’s actions fall “outside the boundary and scope of the foregoing arbitration agreement.”
Wells Fargo is the fourth largest bank in the country, with over 9,000 locations nationwide and nearly 265,000 full-time employees.