Wells Fargo & Co. was slapped with a $185 million fine for “widespread illegal” sales practices that included opening as many as two million deposit and credit-card accounts without customers’ knowledge, the Wall Street Journal reports. Employees at the bank, which has 40 million retail customers, issued debit cards without customers’ knowledge and assigned personal identification numbers without telling them, said the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The employees also transferred funds from authorized customer accounts without customer permission, according to the allegations, sometimes resulting in fees for insufficient funds.
Staffers also allegedly created fake email addresses, such as “email@example.com,” to enroll unknowing consumers or people who don’t exist in online-banking services to hit sales goals, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office said. Wells Fargo neither admitted nor denied the allegations but agreed to pay the fine and submit to a consent order to settle civil claims brought by the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the consumer protection bureau, and the city attorney. The bank said the agreement was reached “consistent with our commitment to customers and in the interest of putting this matter behind us.” The bank said it had “terminated roughly 5,300 employees for engaging in improper sales practices,” reported the bureau. Wall Street Journal