The government has fined Wells Fargo $185 million for issuing hundreds of thousands of credit cards to customers without their knowledge and opening more than a million bank accounts without their consent.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau slapped the bank with the fine — the largest it has ever levied — after finding these practices were rampant throughout Wells Fargo since 2011, reports The New York Times.
Wells Fargo employees issued 565,000 lines of credit and opened 1.5 million bank accounts for customers without their consent, and sometimes created false email addresses to sign them up for banking services in order to pad their numbers. Some 14,000 of those credit accounts accrued over $400,000 in fees, reports CNN Money, and the bank has promised to pay more than $2 million back in fees customers were fraudulently charged.
“We regret and take responsibility for any instances where customers may have received a product that they did not request,” the bank said in a statement reported by The New York Times. Wells Fargo is required make changes to it’s sales strategy and employee operations as part of the $185 million dollar settlement.
The company says it fired 5,300 employees over the last few years for these kinds of practices, reports CNN Money. Wells Fargo says that employees took measures to the extreme by creating fake PIN numbers to accompany the counterfeit e-mails.
The firm lists some $1.9 trillion in assets, 8,600 branches in the U.S. and abroad, and has a market value cap at $239 billion. Berkshire Hathaway investment firm is the largest shareholder in Wells Fargo. The investment firm is run by avid Hillary Clinton supporter, Warren Buffet.
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