Wells Fargo has been slapped with a record $185 million penalty over a scam carried out by its own employees—5,300 of whom were fired. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says Wells Fargo workers trying to reach sales targets opened around 2 million phony deposit or credit card accounts, often transferring funds between customers' authorized accounts and the new ones they had created in their names. The Wells Fargo workers got bonuses for meeting targets, while the customers ended up paying fees on the phony accounts. The CFPB says Wells Fargo, which has agreed to pay the penalty, set up the bonus program without monitoring it for possible shady behavior.
"I didn't sign up for any bloody checking account," a scammed Maryland customer tells CNNMoney. "They lost me as a banking customer and I have warned family and friends." The CFPB says the $100 million fine is the largest it has levied since it was created in 2011. Wells Fargo will also have to pay $35 million to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and another $50 million to the city and county of Los Angeles, as well as make full restitution to all victims. A Wells Fargo spokeswoman tells the Wall Street Journal that the firings took place over several years, and they involved managers as well as team members from the bank's total staff of 268,000. (LA's lawsuit against Wells Fargo called it a "virtual fee-generating machine.")