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Businesses The Almighty Buck The Courts

Wells Fargo Sued Again For Misbilling Car Owners And Veterans (reuters.com) 75

UnknowingFool writes: A new class action lawsuit from a former Wells Fargo customer claimed the bank charged loan customers for auto insurance they did not need. With auto loans, the bank often requires that full coverage auto insurance be bought when the loan is made. However, lead plaintiff Paul Hancock says that Wells Fargo charged him for auto insurance even though he informed them he already had an insurance policy with another company. Wells Fargo also charged him a late fee when he disputed the charge. Wells Fargo does not dispute that it did this to customers and has offered to refund $80 million to 570,000 customers who were charged for insurance. The lawsuit however is to recoup late fees, delinquency charges, and other fees that the refund would not cover.
NPR describes Wells Fargo actually repossessing the car of a man who was "marked as delinquent for not paying this insurance -- which he didn't want or need or even know about." Friday the bank also revealed the number of "potentially unauthorized accounts" from its earlier fake accounts scandal could be much higher than previous estimates -- and that they're now expecting their legal costs to exceed the $3.3 billion they'd already set aside.

And Reuters reports that the bank will also be paying $108 million "to settle a whistleblower lawsuit claiming it charged military veterans hidden fees to refinance their mortgages, and concealed the fees when applying for federal loan guarantees."
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Wells Fargo Sued Again For Misbilling Car Owners And Veterans

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  • by rossz ( 67331 ) <{ogre} {at} {geekbiker.net}> on Saturday August 05, 2017 @12:47PM (#54946843) Homepage Journal

    It's obvious that Wells Fargo has deeply ingrained corruption that is harmful to consumers to such an extreme that the bank should be broken up and sold off. Wells Fargo should cease to exist.

    • by hord ( 5016115 ) <jhord@carbon.cc> on Saturday August 05, 2017 @01:04PM (#54946939)

      I've been watching this since the original reports of fake accounts came out. What blows me away is that right around the '08-'09 meltdown I specifically remember watching Warren Buffett talk about how solid the management is at WF. I don't know if its rotten straight up to the head but this is damn poor management no matter how you slice it.

      • by merky1 ( 83978 ) on Saturday August 05, 2017 @01:46PM (#54947127) Journal

        Curious if that was before the "forced" merging of good and bad banks. Buffet may have been talking about the older WF, and not the influx of sub-prime mortgage managing people.

        • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          I am curious as to how many people managed a custodial sentence for rampant across the board fraud, it must have been thousands, ohh wait, none, isn't that just so cute, wow, Americans must be proud of that bit of justice, the rich get to keep what they steal and the poor die in prison, often brutally.

      • I specifically remember watching Warren Buffett talk about how solid the management is at WF. I don't know if its rotten straight up to the head but this is damn poor management no matter how you slice it.

        So, how do you feel about Buffett? I used to be a big fan, but of late I've been thinking that at best he's not worth listening to any more, and at worst he may have always been running a game. I mean, more than is obvious.

        • by hord ( 5016115 )

          I'm a big believer in value investing but some of his moves have mystified me lately. He was betting big on IBM which probably wasn't too bad at the time but I think last I heard they had 20 quarters of straight losses and are being swallowed by AWS. My own personal dealings with IBM on state-level contracts says they should have been bankrupt two decades ago. The z-series mainframes sure are pretty, though.

          His recent interest in Sprint makes no sense. Yes they have good valuation but I can't see a futu

        • by mikael ( 484 )

          He campaigns for high inheritance taxes on "wealthy landowners". This forces family businesses to put their property on the market, which no-one else but people like WB can afford.

      • by mikael ( 484 )

        It's deliberate. Sounds just like PPI (Payment Protection Insurance) in the UK for loans and mortgages. Banks charged you 1% interest of your outstanding credit card debt as a form of insurance that if you were to taken ill, and couldn't work, the insurance would pay 10% of your credit card bill each month.

        But the banks continued to increase credit card limits to take advantage of customers when they were short of funds until they were in a debt trap where the most they could afford to pay matched the inter

    • by oh-dark-thirty ( 1648133 ) on Saturday August 05, 2017 @01:38PM (#54947087)

      Couldn't agree more. I am currently stuck with them as my mortgage servicer, and they suck so hard it hurts. They screw up my escrow at least once a year and I have to fight them to correct it. I wish they would just sell my account to someone else, but they are known for hanging on to their loans so I don't see than happening. Gahd I fucking hate them.

      • You can't refinance with another company? I think my bank sold my mortgage to another bank months after getting it.

        • I suppose I could, but there are not-insignificant costs and ramifications that go along with that. Also, I am seriously considering selling the house within the next year or so anyway, the neighborhood has gone to shit in the 20 years I've been here.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        They did sell your mortgage. They retain the servicing because that's where the short term cash flow is. Your loan was in a CDO and sold within days of your closing.

        As for the Wachovia merger, it depends on the scandal. Fake accounts was before the merger. Most of the car loan business was from Wachovia, the mortgages are some of both. Wells (really Norwest) took the completely full of crap Wachovia mortgage paper and dealt with it. Wells mortgages aren't all gold and pudding either but they aren't th

      • credit union?
        When I was shopping one of the questions was.... do you sell it? Do you retain servicing?
        as expected, everyone sold it off right away, however, the credit union I chose retained servicing rights.. so at the end of the month, I get a letter from the credit union and if I have any problems, their servicing division is only 30 minutes away.
    • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday August 05, 2017 @01:45PM (#54947123) Homepage Journal

      It's obvious that Wells Fargo has deeply ingrained corruption that is harmful to consumers to such an extreme that the bank should be broken up and sold off. Wells Fargo should cease to exist.

      Alas, that is the opposite of what will happen. Remember when WAMU was sold to Chase, possibly the most corrupt bank in America [rollingstone.com]? I was a WAMU customer. WAMU was claimed to be insolvent, but they were doing a lot better than the banks we bailed out. When the going gets tough, the biggest, most politically-connected banks win. Wells Fargo is about as endemic an infection of a bank that the USA has ever known. The chance that there will be any significant come-uppance is nil.

    • by kick6 ( 1081615 )
      It's the industry, not Wells. All you're going to accomplish by that is teach the entire industry to be a scummy as Wells.
    • If you look at ANY of the big banks in the US, or really anywhere in the world, they all do this shit.

      Hell, it's why the US has Frank-Dodd (more for brokers/financial services), and why the Republicans are hell-bent on repealing that as well.

      Once a bank gets big enough that it can't really "grow" (or grow as fast as before), it has to boost profits somehow. The easiest way is to defraud a lot of little people who don't know any better. This is a basic law of banking. They all do it.

    • by cavis ( 1283146 )

      On a possibly related note, Wells Fargo is selling about $2 billion in insurance business in 54 locations to USI Insurance. http://www.insurancejournal.co... [insurancejournal.com]

  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Saturday August 05, 2017 @12:48PM (#54946857) Homepage

    Huge fines for this kind of behavior should have direct legal consequences. If you do this kind of massive fraud, it is clearly illegal. The government should figure out who made the decisions, with the knowledge that deleting records = guilt.

    They should figure out who was responsible and jail them for at least a year. Then double the fine if the convict's boss is not fired for cause. Because if he truly didn't know about the crime, then he has demonstrated incompetence. If he did, he should have gone to jail instead.

    I am tired of seeing companies write these kinds of things off as the cost of doing business.

    • by rossz ( 67331 )

      The fine should be no less than triple the estimated profits from the wrongdoing. So long as the fine can be written off as a cost of doing business and still leave a profit, the corruption will continue.

      Jail time, too. Lots of jail time. The CEO is the captain of the ship and is ultimately responsible for all crimes committed. Throw a few rich bastards in jail for five years and watch what happens.

      • by davecb ( 6526 )

        In the EU (this example if from Italy),

        Liability for corporate entities for crimes committed by their employees was first introduced by Decreto Legistativo no. 231 of 2001 ("Law 231"). Previously, vicarious liability was covered exclusively by tort law.

        • The maximum penalty differs for each offence. The highest fine is EUR 1.549 million. If the offence is market abuse, this amount may be increased up to 10 times the profit of the offence, if the latter is material.
        • The court will also impose a fine suffici
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I don't think the Wells Fargo directors were aware of this criminal behavior.
      Which means that Wells Fargo has grown too big for them to oversee.
      Which means that Wells Fargo should be split into smaller entities.

      If the directors were aware of this criminal behavior - they should go to prison.

    • They should figure out who was responsible and jail them for at least a year.

      There is no need to "figure out" who was responsible, because Wells Fargo has an org chart that will tell you. Jail every single manager from the CEO on down to anyone to whom any offending employee reported. All of them share responsibility for making sure these things don't happen on their watch.

  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Saturday August 05, 2017 @12:49PM (#54946873)
    And, just like last time, Fargo is going to claim that since the victims are existing customers, they've already signed a binding arbitration clause, which prevents them from joining class-action suits.
    These guys are a bigger bunch of mindless jerks than the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation.
    • Can that clause hold up in court? You can't agree to give up rights.

      • The Extreme Court has ruled several times in the last few years that mandatory binding arbitration clauses are constitutional and enforceable, even overriding state laws to the contrary. Google "binding arbitration supreme court" or "mandatory arbitration clauses in consumer contracts".
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Donated over $14 million to Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Wells should be seized as a criminal enterprise under RICO and the assets liquidated.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What does it take before a corporation gets their charter revoked? This company at this point seems more like an example of organized crime than a legitimate business. How far is it possible to go before enough is enough?

  • Communications companies, Banks, and Insurance companies seem to have no regard for their customers any more here's my short list of companies I won't do business with because of their arrogance to the concerns of their customers:

    1. Wells Fargo
    2. AT&T
    3. Allstate

    All these companies seem to care about is enriching management first, then shareholders second. Customers and employees are at the bottom of the list. They drive business to them due to their large advertising budgets. This would change if custom

  • by quonset ( 4839537 ) on Saturday August 05, 2017 @01:25PM (#54947039)

    of the NPR story where the guy whose car was repossessed goes to a Wells Fargo bank branch with all his documentation, and the staff can't figure out what's going on. Then the staff starts calling the part of Wells Fargo involved in this loan and they keep getting put on hold for over two hours.

    If the bank itself puts its own employees on hold when they're trying to get an answer to a simple question, it's quite clear the bank is trying to cover up its criminal actions.

    Why people are still customers of this corrupt organization is a mystery.

    • > Why people are still customers of this corrupt organization is a mystery.

      In my case, because I was moving to a new city, and my credit union didn't have nearby branches (nearest is 30 miles away). Since I didn't know where I would end up buying a house, I picked a big bank that had branches both at my old city, and all over the new one. This was all before the customer fraud stuff started. I kept my credit union account, and still use them for about half my banking, but a nearby branch and ATM was t

      • Today, the question is are there any local banks who are less jerks than WF, and how do you tell?

        Only credit unions. And not even all of them are good. I used to be a Mendo-Lake Credit Union member. But my local branch is shit. They had (have? dunno) one good employee who actually did her job and was polite and not nosy, and then a bunch of sour-faced old nosy bitches who would give dirty looks, do their job like shit, spend lots of time jaw-jacking, etc. This all descends from the manager, who is not sour-faced but does love to talk instead of work, and loves to peer out of her office at the patrons a

      • by DogDude ( 805747 )
        You know, you can get cash back from most grocery stores for free. Why do you need ATMs?
      • If you're in the US, you can make credit union ATM withdrawals from 7-eleven stores for free. This is one of the killer features of credit unions, in addition to allowing you to keep a low balance without charging fees. I don't understand why poor people bank at Wells Fargo or Bank of America when they charge you for having a low balance in your checking account. I used to bank at both, got treated like crap by their reps, and moved on.

  • by plopez ( 54068 ) on Saturday August 05, 2017 @03:15PM (#54947511) Journal

    Corporations are people aren't they? Restrict its liberty and take away but a small fraction of it's income. After all, that is what happens to people with a history of fraud and theft.

  • WtF (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Xyrus ( 755017 ) on Saturday August 05, 2017 @04:49PM (#54947927) Journal

    The first rule of dealing with Wells Fargo is: Do not deal with Wells Fargo.

    If you have a bank account with them,close and move to someone else. If you have a credit card with them, close it and choose another provider. If you have a mortgage with them, refinance with someone else. If they end up buying your loan, refinance again.

    Wells Fargo is the shittiest bank I've ever had the displeasure of doing business with. They will absolutely go out of their way to screw you over. If you haven't been screwed over yet, it will only be a matter of time before they do so. I refinanced my mortgage just to get away from them after the BS they kept trying to pull with my mortgage. The final straw was when the deliberately STOPPED my automatic mortgage payments for absolutely no reason and never sent any notification of any kind, presumably so they could try and snowball late fees (this was years ago).

    So all these scandals involving WF don't really come as any surprise to me. In fact, I suspect there will be many more. I wouldn't trust those assholes with a wooden nickel.

    • by thomn8r ( 635504 )

      he first rule of dealing with Wells Fargo is: Do not deal with Wells Fargo.

      My new employer has our retirement plan with Wells Fargo, and so far it's the biggest POS I've ever encountered. On top of that, there's an attempted upsell at every turn.

  • In that case, Wells Fargo is a criminal enterprise and should be examined as such by the DOJ. The DOJ should use all pertinent laws to punish those responsible as if Wells Fargo were the Mafia. Fines are no longer enough.

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