On Wednesday, yet another lawsuit was filed against Wells Fargo, and it contained some troubling allegations. The suit, filed by a Wells Fargo shareholder named William Sarsfield, in the San Francisco Superior Court, alleges that in an attempt to meet sales goals for opening new accounts, the bank’s employees took advantage of undocumented immigrants by specifically targeting them as customers.
This is one of a litany of lawsuits being filed against Wells Fargo, which is not unexpected given that near the end of last year, it was revealed that its employees had allowed the creation of as many as 2 million fake accounts as they tried to keep up with the bank’s demanding sales quotas. That’s left customers, regulators, employees, and shareholders understandably peeved.
In general, these lawsuits seek restitution for damage done to those whose names the fake accounts were opened in, as well as punishment for the negligence of the bank and its leaders. This new suit alleges that employees were engaged in dubious customer-recruitment practices at the behest of bank managers, including getting undocumented workers to open checking accounts in exchange for check-cashing waivers and sending Latino and Latina tellers to “force” people on the street and at Social Security offices to sign up for accounts. The lawsuit also alleges that Wells Fargo employees sought out undocumented workers at convenience stores and construction sites, as well as going to college campuses with pre-filled account application forms, getting students to sign, and later using the signatures to open unauthorized accounts. Lastly, the documents claim that a manager who attempted to report illegal activity to the company’s internal ethics hotline was reprimanded and told to “play ball or get out.”