Embattled bank fraudulently issued and charged customers for auto insurance policies they did not want or need
NEW YORK, August 02, 2017 – When Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC) executives testified on Capitol Hill last September, they apologized for the more than 2 million fake accounts the bank created in customers’ names, but denied that it was a case of large-scale fraud orchestrated by management. But according to a lawsuit filed this week on a matter unrelated to the “fake accounts scandal,” such fraudulent behavior appears to be rampant throughout the company. A federal class action case filed this week by DiCello Levitt against Wells Fargo and National General Insurance Company claims the defendants conspired to bill more than 800,000 Wells Fargo borrowers for auto insurance they neither requested nor needed. According to the complaint, Wells Fargo sent auto financing customers’ information to National General, which tacked its own additional collateral protection insurance onto the loan, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent profits for the companies.
Once customers complained, word of the scheme spread, and an investigative story was published in The New York Times, Wells Fargo admitted to the fraud, saying it would accept “full responsibility” for its actions. Last week the bank announced that it would “refund” approximately $80 million to 570,000 customers who were wrongly charged for auto insurance, including 20,000 people whose vehicles were repossessed. This purported refund falls far short of the actual damages suffered by consumers throughout the nation resulting from defendants’ scheme.
“As has apparently become par for the course for Wells Fargo, it accepted ‘full responsibility’ and admitted to the fraud, but only after it was caught and outed by an investigative piece in The New York Times,” said Adam Levitt of law firm DiCello Levitt, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of the wronged Wells Fargo customers. Levitt is also lead counsel in In re Wells Fargo ERISA 401(k) Litigation, 16-3405 (D. Minn.), representing Wells Fargo’s retirement plan participants in a class action lawsuit against Wells Fargo related to significant plan losses in connection with the fake accounts scandal.
Levitt continued: “While Wells Fargo has now said that it will issue refunds to its customers, that is just the tip of the iceberg and does little to address the real damage its fraud has already done. This includes those who had their vehicles repossessed, had their credit scores damaged, endured inflated insurance premiums, and incurred late fees. And that doesn’t even cover the financial and emotional stress that Wells Fargo and National inflicted on unsuspecting customers, all to put a few more dollars into its own pockets. National General, for its part, has remained quiet for the last ten years, apparently content to enjoy the spoils of its coordinated scheme with Wells Fargo to steal money from unsuspecting Wells Fargo customers and National General insureds.”
According to the lawsuit, in July 2016, Wells Fargo retained a consultant to determine the scope of the fraud. The results were staggering, finding that from 2012 through 2016:
- More than 800,000 consumers were charged and paid for auto insurance they didn’t need;
- Some of those consumers are still paying;
- The illegal scheme pushed 274,000 consumers into delinquency;
- 25,000 consumers suffered the wrongful repossession of their vehicle, and the devastating costs and consequences of that action;
- In many instances, consumers were never informed of the insurance before it was issued, charged and deducted from their bank accounts;
- Wells Fargo received myriad complaints from consumers regarding the unneeded and unwanted insurance, but continued harassing them for payment.
Wells Fargo customers who believe they may have been victimized by this fraud should visit (www.wellsfargoinsurancelawsuit.com) or call 888-778-8880 to determine their legal rights and learn more about the case.
The case is Katherine Jacob v. National General Insurance Company and Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. 17-cv-05806 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. A copy of the complaint is available on request.
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