Daily Archives: October 20, 2016

Wells Fargo Says Customers Shied Away After Scandal

Wells Fargo disclosed on Friday that new account openings had taken a nose-dive since the scandal over illegal activity at the bank erupted: Bank executives said customers opened 25 percent fewer checking accounts and applied for 20 percent fewer credit cards in September compared with a year ago.

Wells Fargo executives acknowledged that customers may have shunned the bank as the extent of the problems came to light. Timothy J. Sloan, who was named the chief executive on Wednesday, said on the company’s third-quarter earnings call that he understood the gravity of the situation.

Read on.

Defunct Law Firm Sues Wells Fargo Over Foreclosure Work

A New Jersey law firm that helped Wells Fargo Bank N.A. foreclose on thousands of homeowners has sued the lender, saying the bank’s delayed efforts to fix its robo-signing problems led the law firm to collapse.

Lawyers for the Zucker, Goldberg & Ackerman law firm, which laid off most of its 335 workers last year, are accusing Wells Fargo of taking several years to comply with a 2010 New Jersey Supreme Court order that called for lenders to show that they were properly submitting mortgage details before foreclosing on a property.

The order, which required banks to submit their internal foreclosure policies, paralyzed foreclosures throughout the state. The average time for the foreclosure process—from filing the lawsuit to a sheriff’s sale—grew from about 200 days to about 1,000 days, according to documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Newark.

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Wells Fargo loses Better Business Bureau accreditation

Bad news for Wells Fargo…

Wells Fargo has lost its accreditation with the Better Business Bureau, another setback for the San Francisco company as it grapples with fallout from a sales scandal.

The Arlington, Va.-based organization stripped the accreditation following Wells’settlement last month with regulators who accused the bank of opening millions of accounts that customers may not have authorized. The government action pushed Wells Fargo below the “B” rating required for businesses to maintain accreditation.

In a statement, Wells Fargo said it will “continue to work hard to restore our customers’ trust” and is “focused on providing the best service to our customers.” The bank said its No. 1 priority is making things right with its customers and restoring public trust, pointing to steps it is taking to ensure its sales culture is “100 percent aligned with our customers’ interests.”

Massachusetts Is the Latest State to Bar Wells Fargo From Bond Underwriting

The commonwealth will suspend bond business with the bank for a year.

The state of Massachusetts will stop using Wells Fargoas a bond underwriter for a year, joining a growing list of state and local governments to suspend business with the bank after revelations it opened millions of unauthorized accounts.

Massachusetts Treasurer Deborah Goldberg instructed her staff late on Monday to immediately remove Wells Fargo WFC 0.44% from the state’s approved list of underwriters for a term of one year, her spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

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Former Federal Investigator Says Government Didn’t Investigate Wells Fargo Whistleblower Cases

Darrell Whitman, a former investigator for OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program, says his agency failed to investigate warnings from Wells Fargo employees in 2010.

Six years ago, two Wells Fargo employees filed whistleblower complaints with the federal government.

They sent their cases to the Department of Labor’s Whistleblower Protection Program, which is administered by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

But an investigator who reviewed cases for the agency says no one actually investigated the complaints.

This revelation comes as the nation reels from an enormous Wells Fargo banking scandal. The San Francisco-based company was fined $185 million last month after employees opened two million phony bank accounts and credit cards to meet sales goals.

Now Darrell Whitman is breaking his silence to the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit, claiming if his agency had done its job, the bank’s widespread practice of opening fraudulent customer accounts could have been exposed and fixed years ago.

“I think it’s pretty obvious they don’t follow protocols,” Whitman said of OSHA. “You don’t do the job, that’s pretty close to dropping the ball, isn’t it?”

Whitman worked in the agency’s San Francisco office from 2010 to 2015. He says in May 2010, OSHA received two complaints from former Wells Fargo employees who claimed the company retaliated against them for raising red flags about the bank’s business practices.

Whitman says instead of investigating, the agency held the complaints for six months. He says in November 2010, after the two complainants decided to file federal lawsuits against Wells Fargo, his supervisors assigned him the cases simply to close them.

“They assigned it to me only for the purpose of dismissing the complaint,” he said.

According to OSHA policy, the agency is relieved of pursuing whistleblower cases when complainants head to court. But, Whitman says the agency should have started and completed the investigations before the whistleblowers filed their lawsuits.

Source: Former Federal Investigator Says Government Didn’t Investigate Wells Fargo Whistleblower Cases | NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Former-Federal-Investigator-Says-Government-Didnt-Investigate-Wells-Fargo-Whistleblower-Cases-397518261.html#ixzz4NavdiMn6

Letter warned Wells Fargo of ‘widespread’ fraud in 2007

Former Wells Fargo CEO, John Stumpf, told congress under oath that he was not notified of a serious fake account problem until 2013.

However, CNNMoney has obtained a 2007 letter addressed to Stumpf that warned of widespread “unethical (and illegal) activity” inside Wells Fargo and the “routine deception and fraudulent exploitation of our clients.”

The letter was written by a Wells Fargo (WFC) employee, who had been transferred from the branch after raising sales concerns, and who later won a federal whistleblower retaliation case against the company.

Eerily, the letter seemed to predict the scandal Wells Fargo is dealing with today.

“Left unchecked, the inevitable outcome shall be one of professional and reputational damage, consumer fraud and shareholder lawsuits, coupled with regulator sanctions,” the letter warned.

It said the illegal activity in Northern California was “widespread and so highly encouraged that it has become a normal sales practice.”

The employee copied Stumpf on a second letteraddressed to the audit and examination committee of Wells Fargo’s board of directors.

Read on.

Action 9: Couple loses foreclosure battle

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – An Apopka couple is being kicked out of their home after losing an eight-year foreclosure battle in court. The couple’s own records show they never missed making a mortgage payment, but their lender had a different set of books that showed otherwise.

Action 9’s Todd Ulrich investigated how this happened, and why it should alarm anyone who thinks his mortgage company made a mistake.

The Mannino’s have been packing all their belongings at the house in Apopka since losing the foreclosure fight. Mike Mannino said his American dream of home ownership just died.

Read on.

Game changer: California investigating Wells Fargo for identity theft

A group of senators is already asking the Department of Justice to use a new policyto target individuals at Wells Fargo for corporate misconduct (and maybe even more) in the wake of the fake account scandal surrounding the bank.

The senators’ push for prosecution seems to focus mainly on the executives at Wells Fargo, including departed CEO John Stumpf, for their roles in setting up and overseeing an incentive program that led to the bank’s employees setting up millions of fake accounts in consumers’ names in order to get sales bonuses.

But the state of California is making a move that could lead to a whole new world of hurt for Wells Fargo, its current and former executives, and the 5,000 former employees who opened the fake accounts.

According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, which has been all over this scandalsince the beginning, the California Department of Justice is launching an investigation into the conduct at Wells Fargo but plans to use a different tact than the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which together fined the bank $185 million.

The LA Times reports that California is now investigating Wells Fargo for criminal identity theft. That’s right – criminal identity theft.

From the LA Times report:

Harris’ office demanded the bank turn over a trove of information, including the identities of California customers who had unauthorized accounts opened in their names, information about fees related to those accounts, the names of the Wells Fargo employees who opened the accounts, the names of those employees’ managers and emails or other communication related to those accounts.

Her office is also requesting the same information about accounts opened by Wells Fargo workers in California for customers in other states.

Read on.