Wells Fargo has been in trouble off and on since September 2016, when the bank admitted that millions of fake accounts—accounts that customers had never agreed to—had been opened. Supposedly, salespeople, who were paid according to how many and what types of accounts they opened, initiated the accounts without permission, taking money out of customers’ pockets for various fees and charges. The scandal led to the CEO’s removal and even sparked Congressional hearings. Since then, the bank has also admitted to forcing over a half-million customers into unnecessary auto insurance, causing some to lose their vehicles to repossession. Wells Fargo has also acknowledged that they charged more than 100,000 home buyers needless mortgage fees.
Now, however, it looks as if Wells Fargo may have deliberately convinced customers who were rolling over their 401(k) accounts to put money into investments that generated high fees for the bank and commissions for its accounts personnel. The federal government is looking into their 401(k) practices.
If you have suffered a loss due to someone else’s negligence, the personal injury attorneys at the Louthian Law Firm would like to help you. We have been securing justice for the hardworking people and families of South Carolina since 1959. Please give us a call.
How Did the Situation Come to Light?
You might be thinking that a whistleblower was responsible for informing the government, but it turns out that the information was revealed in a required form that all U.S. companies issuing stock must file annually. Form 10-K, required by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), provides an all-inclusive summary of a company’s financial functionality. The 10-K is essentially an annual report, but not for investors. Instead, it is for federal regulators.
In Wells Fargo’s 2018 10-K, the bank stated that its board of directors was exploring whether the bank had given “inappropriate referrals or recommendations” to 401(k) plan participants. A number of federal departments took notice, including the SEC, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of Labor (DOL).
The DOL is investigating whether Wells Fargo convinced those with 401(k)s to roll them over into pricier Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) with the bank. The Labor Department is also investigating whether the retirement plan services unit at the bank pushed account holders into buying in-house funds to produce more revenue for the bank. It is also alleged that the bank’s employees advised customers to put funds into non-traditional investments that are often considered inappropriate for retirement accounts. The SEC is urging the board of directors to scrutinize its 401(k) practices.
At the Wells Fargo annual shareholder meeting, an activist investor, Sister Nora Nash, said, “This company has harmed and wounded millions of its customers.”
Could You Be a Victim?
If you are a former or current Wells Fargo customer, and you meet any of the following conditions, you may be affected by the alleged fraud at the bank:
- You rolled over your 401(k) into a Wells Fargo Individual Retirement Account, especially when pushed to do so by a bank employee.
- A Wells Fargo employee convinced you to put money into a Wells Fargo mutual fund.
- A Wells Fargo employee persuaded you to put money into alternative (non-traditional) investments such as, but not limited to, gold, commodities like oil or gas, or real estate.
- A Wells Fargo employee recommended that you put money into a Wells Fargo fiduciary account (like a trust fund) or a managed investment account.
If any of the above conditions apply to you, you may have a claim. An experienced attorney can help you explore your options.
Seeking Truth, Securing Justice.
When you have suffered a loss with your hard-earned money because those you trusted to have your best interests in mind did not indeed do so, it can feel as if nothing will ever be fair again. When this happens, the personal injury lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm can review your legal options and work with you to determine the most appropriate next step. A personal injury award won in court or through a negotiated settlement can help a person who has suffered harm to move forward with their life.
At the Louthian Law Firm, we will listen to your individual circumstances and analyze the merits of your case absolutely free of charge. You pay no fees until we recover compensation for your injuries. To get started, call us today, or use our convenient online form.