(San Jose Mercury News) Wells Fargo may have opened as many as 3.5 million bogus bank accounts without its customers’ permission, attorneys for customers suing the bank have alleged in a court filing, suggesting the bank may have created far more fake accounts than previously indicated.
The plaintiffs’ new estimate of bogus bank accounts is about 1.4 million, or 67 percent, higher than the original estimate — disclosed last year as part of a settlement with regulators — that up to 2.1 million accounts were opened without customers’ permission.
In estimating the higher number of fake accounts, the plaintiffs’ attorneys examined a much longer time period than regulators and the bank had previously addressed, they said in court documents. The attorneys covered a period from 2002 to 2017, rather than the previously scrutinized five-year stretch from 2011 to some time in 2016 in which the bank acknowledged setting up unauthorized accounts. Scrutiny of bank employees’ activity during that five-year period led to the settlement last September, which required the bank to pay $185 million in fines.