Report: Wells Fargo Whistleblower Claims There Was Fraud Years Ago

October 4, 2016 1:42 pm Last Updated: October 4, 2016 6:17 pm

A former Wells Fargo employee has said that she alerted the bank about fraud cases several years before the scandal that’s currently plaguing the bank.

Yesenia Guitron, speaking to “CBS This Morning,” said she noticed oddities in customer accounts after she started working at a Wells Fargo branch in St. Helena, California, in 2008.

“I started noticing what I thought were honest mistakes. But then these honest mistakes, you know, became a very clear pattern,” Guitron said. “People ending up with 10-to-15 debit cards that they didn’t request,” she said.

“For one customer,” Guitron added. Guitron said her complaints to the management were essentially ignored. When she persisted in complaining, the manager at the St. Helena branch where she worked told her she was fired and escorted her out the door.

Guitron filed a lawsuit against Wells Fargo in 2010, saying she was fired for expressing concerns over “opening accounts without the consent or authorization of the prospective clients.”

“I felt similar to the case with Erin Brockovich, you know, here’s this little me against a big powerful Wells Fargo bank. Nobody’s going to believe what I’m saying,” Guitron said. A judge dismissed her lawsuit, saying she didn’t “meet her sales goals, and that she was thus not performing her job satisfactorily.”

Wells Fargo is currently mired in a scandal for taking advantage of its customers by opening as many as 2 million bank accounts without their prior consent. About 5,000 workers were fired in the aftermath.

Former workers told NPR that wrongdoing was rampant, including in the company’s San Francisco headquarters. CEO John Stumpf has been defending himself in congressional hearings, saying he didn’t direct employees to provide services and products to customers they didn’t want.

“Wrongful sales practice behavior,” Stumpf said recently, “goes against everything regarding our core principals, our ethics and our culture.”

But one employee said that claim is bogus.

“That’s the whole foundation of Wells Fargo is cross-sell, cross-sell, cross sell,” the woman, who remained anonymous, told NPR.

“Everybody needs a ridiculous amount of products,” she told the public broadcaster, adding that some workers in the corporate headquarters engaged in deceptive practices. “That completely contradicts what he’s saying.”

This week, the state of Illinois announced it will suspend its annual $30 billion in investment activity with Wells Fargo for at least a year, USA Today reported.

Last week, California Treasurer John Chiang announced the state would suspend key banking relationships for 12 months amid allegations the firm is “fleecing its customers.”