Wells Fargo whistle-blower finds vindication — 14 years later

“I’ve been vindicated,” Ian Minto quietly told himself.

It was late September last year. Minto had just heard that then-CEO Wells Fargo John Stumpf stood in front of a Senate panel and apologized for a major scandal that rocked the San Francisco bank. Employees had created up to two million fraudulent accounts in the names of real consumers. Senator after senator blasted Stumpf, many expressing disbelief that Wells Fargo could do such a thing.

If only they had met Minto 15 years ago.

In 2002, Minto was an assistant branch manager at Wells Fargo branch in San Rafael when he started to notice troubling behavior: Some of his employees were signing up unusually large numbers of customers. One particular banker recruited more than two dozen customers in a single day.

Suspicious, Minto discovered the banker listed the same address for those 25 people. So he went to the address. It was a cemetery.

As it turns out, employees were creating fraudulent checking and credit-card accounts so they could hit aggressive sales goals and earn more money.

“You’re not just stealing from the customer, you’re stealing from the shareholders,” Minto told me.

Minto said he reported the fraud to his supervisor, as the bank had taught him.

“He said ‘Don’t worry about it,’” Minto told me. “That’s about as far as it went.”

Not quite. A few months later, the bank fired him for not meeting sales goals. So Minto filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against Wells Fargo. But he lacked the money to pursue the case and ended up settling out of court.

Read on.

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