Over the course of four years, at least 5,000 Wells Fargo employees opened more than a million fake bank and credit card accounts on behalf of unwitting customers.
Although many bank accounts were deemed “empty” and closed automatically, employees sometimes transferred customer funds to the new accounts, triggering overdraft fees and hurting credit ratings.
This scandal feels different from the mortgage crisis because it was not carried out by the 1 percent – such as wealthy investment bankers indifferent to the effects of their actions on regular homeowners – but by “$12 an hour employees,” as one lawsuit alleged. Even if supervisors encouraged or directed the fraud, it was likely these low-wage workers who actually clicked the button to open those accounts.
These workers likely knew better than most what it’s like to be slapped with unfair overdraft fees or undeserved hits to their credit rating.
So why did they do it?