Wells Fargo started demanding fraud of its employees in 1998; Illinois cuts Wells off from state business

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/10/01/wells-fargo-started-demanding.html


This was kind of obvious to anyone who has used or been employed by a bank in the last 20 years. And it’s not just WF that do this. They just got caught.


But you’re not advocating complacency, right?


Nope. Action is appropriate. Regulation is appropriate. Prosecution is appropriate. Surprise really isn’t.


Bank of America, with a sidelong glance, quietly whistles and backs slowly toward the exit.


I’ll repeat my suggestion: give them a little competition in the form of public banking.


I am very fond of my credit union…


I’ve heard tell that corporations are people now. Odd idea, but since it is a fact now, how 'bout we have a corporate death penalty? All trademarks and copyrights now public domain, all assets seized, ground salted, mountain of skulls built.

I think that would be an entirely reasonable response to this, not to mention the VW frauds of a few months back. The corporation is, by definition, amoral: aside from enhancing shareholder value (in the mealy-mouthed speech of the corporate office) no other priorities can really exist. And if you deduct the cost of being caught, punished, and excoriated in the media multiplied by the probability of being caught from the profits thus accrued and get a positive number, why, they’ll do it. Every time. Simple business sense.

So make the cost of being caught, effectively, infinite. You’ll still get fraud, of course, no deterrent is perfect, but this way you’ll make everyone in the corporation very interested in catching it in-house. While said house still exists.

I find it interesting that this savage approach to deterring crime is very popular when it comes to flesh-and-blood humans who, in 99% of the cases, aren’t amoral and do have a moral compass you can recalibrate, but is very unpopular when it comes to corporations.

Odd, that.


Yes. If only we had the infrastructure! I wonder what other developed democratic countries do??


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At post offices you can also conduct your banking, change money, apply for credit, and receive fee-free financial services


The practical result will be that all of the peons are out on the street, unemployed and unable to make their next mortgage payment while the rich and well connected in the c-suite have to settle for smaller yachts.

Criminal prosecution of the people in the c-suite is the only solution. Even if the prosecutions fail, the possibility that they might end up in prison is the only deterrent they can’t buy their way out of. Money can immunize them from a lot of consequences, but no amount of money will get back the years of life spent in prison.


We used to have an equivalent here in the UK. It should surprise absolutely nobody that the Tories privatised it at the request of the private banks…


BofA has been a bit all over the map over that same time period. For a while they were all, “Brick and mortar branches cost money! Get those stupid customers out of the branches and tell them to use ATMs and Online banking, and we’ll charge them extra for the convenience of not being able to come into the branch! Muahahahahhah!”

Then BofA changed its mind slightly and realized the could turn low wage tellers into sales people (as Wells was doing) and had them try to upsell customers. Dunno what the target was, pretty sure it wasn’t 8 accounts per customer, though.

Turning clerks into upsellers bugs the crap out of me, nowhere more than the Post Office, where clerks are required to try to get me to send my $0.47 first class letter for $23 as “Priority Mail Express”. Grrr… (And no, Target, Kohls, Macys and pretty much everywhere else, I do not want to save 10% on my purchase by signing up for your charge card…)


As someone who worked as a bank teller for BofA in the late 90s, I can personally speak to the truth of this. I quit when they stopped caring about me being a good teller and only cared if I’d gotten my requisite credit card applications for the day.


I’m all for that.


That’s more like it. Like I said on an earlier story here, I remember people complaining about phantom accounts being mysteriously opened at Wells Fargo back to the early 2000s at least. There was no way in hell it was only back to 2011.

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The State of Illinois cutting off Wells Fargo for corrupt practices in kinda like the Klan firing someone for being a racist.


Wasn’t there was talk of small scale banking through the post office here in the “great old” U.S.A. at various times, including recently?

(Edited to make this a question)


I think that the weakness you noted is why @LapsedPacifist included the “mountain of skulls built” clause.

Even if one prefers to avoid capital punishment; it would be quite interesting(and potentially a useful deterrent) to explore the simple mechanism of charging the ‘white collar’ criminal in a way that reflects just how prodigious their criminality is.

Court logistics might get interesting when defendants facing charges on over a million distinct counts become part of the workload; but information technology can probably provide a solution to that.


It’s nigh impossible to predict the effects of any big change when the system is this large and complex, but I disagree with your pessimism. I think the threat of a corporate death penalty, with its ensuing complete wipeout of shareholder value, would cause the shareholders keep a much closer watch over their investment.

@LapsedPacifist has hit the nail squarely on the head by analyzing how the cost of being caught multiplied by the probability of being caught is compared to the potential gain. We clearly need a counterbalance to rein in the corporation. Putting a few execs in jail would be sweet, but I doubt even that does much to put the fear of god into them – for exactly the same logic of (gain * odds-of-being-caught) vs. (potential penalty). A dozen months in a country-club jail just isn’t enough of a deterrent, and society (at least in the US) doesn’t seem to be willing to go much further. But having the board of directors breathing down their necks about avoiding the death penalty, well that just feels like it could be an effective motivator to keep corporations toeing the line.