The message to the dozens of Wells Fargo workers gathered for a two-day ethics workshop in San Diego in mid-2014 was loud and clear: Do not create fake bank accounts in the name of unsuspecting clients.
Similar warnings were being relayed from corporate headquarters in San Francisco to regional bankers in Texas, as senior management learned that some Wells employees had been trying to meet exacting sales goals by creating sham bank accounts and credit cards instead of making legitimate sales.
Across the vast retail bank, more “risk professionals” were deployed in efforts to stamp out the illegal activity.
But the bank’s efforts were not enough. Three years after the first false accounts were exposed publicly and the authorities began investigating, Wells, one of the nation’s largest banks, said it was still firing employees over the questionable accounts well into this year.