Suit: Wells Fargo Targeted Undocumented Workers to Hit Sales Goals

Wells Fargo employees at branches across the U.S. routinely rounded up undocumented immigrants to set them up with unauthorized checking and savings accounts in order to meet aggressive sales goals and generate commissions, according to court documents filed in a shareholder lawsuit in California. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Spanish-speaking workers would deliberately target places like construction sites, factories, and convenience stores to find undocumented day laborers, and take them to a branch to set up accounts, with some paid $10 apiece as a reward. One Pennsylvania branch created “Hit the Streets Thursday,” in which managers told Latino staffers to patrol streets and a local Social Security office to get immigrants into branches to open accounts, according to a filing by Julia Miller, a former Wells branch manager. The claims stem from sworn declarations from employees given to plaintiff’s attorney Joseph Cotchett, who filed the suit in San Francisco Superior Court. Wells Fargo has acknowledged that its employees set up as many as two million fradulent accounts in customers’ names without their consent because they were under pressure to match the bank’s steep sales demands, and has paid nearly $200 million in fines. “These allegations are inconsistent with our policies, values, and the relationships we work hard to build with all parts of our community,” Wells Fargo spokesman Ancel Martinez told the Chronicle in an email. “Wells Fargo has long been committed to providing banking services to immigrants in a manner that complies fully with the law, and we have controls in place to ensure we comply with requirements.”