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Entries in Wells Fargo (20)

Saturday
Sep082012

Wells Fargo Mistakenly Cleans Out Retired Couple's Home Twice

Courtesy Pat Tjosaas(NEW YORK) -- Alvin and Pat Tjosaas, a retired couple in Woodland Hills, Calif., had the bad luck of having their home mistaken for a neighboring foreclosed home and being cleared by contractors hired by Wells Fargo -- not once but twice.

A retired bricklayer, Alvin Tjosaas, 77, was the caretaker of his late parents' two-bedroom home in Twentynine Palms, about 200 miles east of his home in Woodland Hills, north of Los Angeles. He is a part owner of the home with his sisters.

Alvin Tjosaas visited the home every four to five months, he said, for maintenance and to work on hobbies in the garage.

"He just loves it up there," Pat Tjosaas, 75, said. "He was in the process of getting ready to re-plumb the house, so he had lots of his tools up there – just a garage full of tools that any man would die for."

But on June 1, a neighbor in Twentynine Palms called the Tjosaas family, asking if they had authorized people to clear out their home.

"We assumed it was a break-in and, really, it was a break-in," Tjosaas said. "They weren't legally supposed to be there."

Tom Goyda, vice president of corporate communications for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, told ABC News the company had foreclosed appropriately on another property near the Tjosaas house and the error was made when a contractor mistakenly went to the Tjosaas house instead of the correct house.

The Tjosaas home had actually never had a mortgage or lien on it because it was paid for in cash as it was being built about 50 years ago.

"We are deeply sorry for the very personal losses the Tjosaas family suffered as a result of their home being mistakenly secured and entered by a contractor hired to address a different nearby property," the company said in a statement. "We moved quickly and have been in contact with the Tjosaas family to resolve this unfortunate situation and right this wrong."

Once the neighbor called, the Tjosaases called the police but were not able to drive to the property immediately because they were attending their granddaughter's wedding.

When her husband drove to the property three days later, she said the workers said they were authorized to clear out a foreclosed home. Finally, the sheriff came and escorted the workers to the intended location, 10 acres away, she said.

"Alvin was left to sit among the ruins of the house," Tjosaas said of her husband.

She later learned the contractors had used a satellite photo and an address given to them by Wells Fargo.

"They simply were at the wrong location," she said, "not even on our road.

The Tjosaases contacted an attorney and Wells Fargo, but Pat Tjosaas said her attorney "was having trouble getting a contact to return his calls" at the company.

The couple did their best to clean up the mess and asked Wells Fargo to have another subcontractor replace the locks on their home.

However, over Labor Day weekend, Alvin Tjosaas, went to check on the home and saw that it had been broken into and "vandalized" again.

"They had taken things like propane tanks, tires, rims that belonged to vintage cars, and put them on the lawn," his wife said.

The Tjosaases later learned Wells Fargo had hired another contractor who made the same mistake as the first.

Frustrated again, the Tjosaases called their son-in-law, a captain with the Los Angeles Fire Department, who contacted the local media.

"He said, 'Enough is enough'," Pat Tjosaas said.

The Tjosaases said a representative from Wells Fargo came Thursday morning to issue an official apology in person.

"The representative was very apologetic and we appreciated that," Pat Tjosaas said, "and that they would initiate discussions on settlement issues and that's where we are right now."

However, Tjosaas said antiques (including her late father-in-law's World War I uniform), the American flag that had previously hung in the yard, and appliances had been taken.

"The items are gone and are irreplaceable," she said. "We have to ask for monetary compensation for items that we lost. We will have to see how that plays out with Wells Fargo."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Aug302012

Wells Fargo Fires Employee for False Dime Crime in 1963

Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images(DES MOINES) -- In 1963 a 19-year-old Richard Eggers committed a crime, putting a fake dime into a laundry machine in Carlisle, Iowa.  Eggers was spotted by the local sheriff and was convicted of operating a coin-changing machine by false means. He was sentenced to 15 days in jail, of which he served two. He was released early to return to college, and fined $50. Case closed.

Well, not so much. Now, 49 years later, Eggers’ past offense is coming back to haunt him.

Eggers worked as a customer service representative at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage in Des Moines until he was fired in July.  The reason given for his dismissal: the long-ago incident with the dime.

“We understand the outpouring of concern for Mr. Eggers and we want people to know that we take this matter very seriously,” the company said in a statement. “Wells Fargo is an insured depository institution, a global bank, bound by U.S. Federal law (Section 19 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act) to protect our customers and their personal financial information from someone who we know has committed an act of dishonesty or breach of trust -- regardless of when the incidents occurred. It is uncomfortable, but it is a law that we have to follow. We have the responsibility to avoid hiring or continuing to employ someone who we know has a criminal record.”

Mr. Eggers’ lawyer, Leonard Bates, spoke with ABC News, disagreeing with the company’s decision. “In 1963 Mr. Eggers was young he did something stupid. He put a wood dime in laundry machine,” he said.  “The spirit of the law was to prevent widespread mortgage fraud but does not apply to my client, who is a customer service representative.”

Mr. Bates did not lay all the blame on the company. “The FDIC’s regulation is overly broad,” Bates said, adding, “There are better, less harsh ways that Wells Fargo could do this without turning people’s lives upside down.”

Wells Fargo says it did everything in its power to keep Eggers working and in compliance with the law.

“When we found out about Mr. Eggers situation we began working with him immediately to help him learn about steps that he could take to make him eligible for reemployment at a financial institution. Specifically, he and any other workers in this situation can apply to the FDIC for written permission to work at a financial institution despite the existence of the disqualifying conviction,” Wells Fargo said in its statement.

The waiver process can take roughly six months and does not always result in reemployment. “Wells Fargo is touting the fact that employees can get waivers,” Bates said. “Some of my clients have obtained waivers but Wells Fargo has not yet hired them back.”

There is a faster, automatic waiver process, however.  In order to qualify the waiver-seeker must have committed a crime more than 10 years ago, received a sentence of less than 365 days, received a fine of less than $1,000, and served no actual jail time. Because Mr. Eggers spent two days in jail in 1963, he does not qualify for the automatic waiver.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul122012

Wells Fargo to Pay $175 Million in Fair Lending Settlement

Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Wells Fargo must pay at least $175 million to settle charges that it violated fair lending laws. The bank is accused of discriminating against qualified black and Hispanic borrowers in its mortgage lending from 2004 through 2009.

“Systematic discrimination was discovered in Wells Fargo's lending practices,” Deputy Attorney General James Cole said in announcing the news Thursday. “This resulted in more than 34,000 African American and Hispanic wholesale borrowers paying an increased rate for loans, simply due to the color of their skin.”

“This settlement constitutes the second largest fair lending settlement ever reached by the department,” Cole said. “The department's action makes clear we will hold financial institutions accountable, including some of the nation's largest for lending discrimination.”

“Put simply,” Cole said, “there is no place for discriminatory lending in the marketplace, and it will not be tolerated by this Department of Justice."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May082012

Wells Fargo Worker Fired for 40-Year-Old Shoplifting Charge

Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images(MILWAUKEE) -- A Milwaukee Wells Fargo employee was fired after a background check discovered shoplifting incidents stemming from 1972.

Yolanda Quesada, 58, worked in customer service at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage in Milwaukee for five years. Although she has a number of recognition awards from her employer, two shoplifting arrests when she was 18 were reason enough to be fired, according to her employer.

Wells Fargo has not responded to a request for comment.

Quesada told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that her employer would not let her explain the shoplifting incidents, which were from a department store in 1972. Although she said she wants her job back, her termination letter stated that she is no longer eligible to work at Wells Fargo, the Journal Sentinel said.

The letter from an outsourced background check company states that she was fined $50 for the first offense and had one year of probation for the second theft.

“Due to legal requirements and changes in the regulatory environment, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage has been performing a thorough background check on all mortgage team members that includes a fingerprint check with the Federal Bureau of Investigation since 2010 on new employees, and on existing employees since last year,” a Wells Fargo spokesman told the newspaper. “Because Wells Fargo is an insured depository institution, we are bound by federal law that generally prohibits us from hiring or continuing the employment of any person who we know has a criminal record involving dishonesty or breach of trust.”

The letter does not accuse Quesada of lying to Wells Fargo about the shoplifting incidents. When she first applied, she remembers only being asked if she had more serious felonies, which she said she did not, the Journal Sentinel reported.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Apr302012

May Day Protest? Banks Get White Powder Envelopes

Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Envelopes containing suspicious powder were sent through the mail to at least seven locations in Manhattan, primarily Wells Fargo banks, in an apparent May Day protest, police officials said.

"This is a reminder that you are not in control," said a message that arrived with the envelopes. "Just in case you needed some incentive to stop working we have a little surprise for you. Think fast you have seconds."

Four of the seven samples have tested negative so far. The envelopes apparently contained corn starch.

Police believe the suspicious envelopes were mailed by militants from within the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Labor, immigration and Occupy Wall Street activists are planning protests for "May Day," May 1, which also is known as international workers' day. The intent is to show the "1 percent" what life without the working class' "99 percent" would be like.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo may have been singled out for the white powder mailings because about half of a key dozen Occupy Wall Street members have backgrounds in Oakland, San Francisco and Berkeley, and similar incidents occurred in California earlier this week, police sources said.

In the New York cases, the envelopes mainly appear to have reached low-level workers at the bank branches.

"Apparently the message was aimed at the mailroom workers among the '99 percent,'" New York police spokesman Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne told ABC News.

The envelopes, intended for May Day delivery, arrived at the banks early.

"They underestimated the efficiency of the U.S. Postal Service," one official said.

Occupy Wall Street threatens to block New York-area tunnels and bridges in the morning of May 1 in an effort to keep commuters from arriving at work, police officials said. They also have urged pickets at "99 locations," an obviously symbolic number.

The Occupy movement has identified 30 to 40 locations, including banks, where they intend to block entrances, officials said.

There will be a significant amount of police officers on duty to counter the protests, though police officials did not give specific numbers on the planned deployment. The day shift is the largest of three tours, with a minimum of 7,000 officers routinely on duty and the ability to hold the overnight shift for coverage.

An additional large number of officers will be on duty for a labor march slated for 5:30 p.m. That march has for several years been a peaceful event by organized labor.

In Los Angeles, officials said 2,500 police will be on duty for the May Day events, and there will be a command center with nearly 100 officers.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar242012

SEC Wants Wells Fargo Documents for Possible Fraud Investigation

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Regulators say that Wells Fargo & Co. should be forced to cooperate with an investigation into its sale of nearly $60 billion in residential mortgage-back securities after it failed to hand over documents demanded in U.S. subpoenas, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.

The Securities and Exchange Commission asked a federal judge on Friday to require the bank to submit documents it agreed to produce under subpoenas dating from September. The SEC is looking into possible fraud of the San Francisco-based company and noted that until now, the company has escaped accusations that most of its competitors have suffered since increasing mortgage defaults prompted record government bailouts of the financial system.

If the agency's request is granted, Well Fargo would have 14 days to submit 1,365 emails and attachments it has withheld from the SEC. Wells Fargo responded by saying the subpoena enforcement action is "inappropriate and unwarranted," and further stated that "the SEC staff has inaccurately described its conduct with regard to residential mortgage-back securities."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio 

Thursday
Mar082012

Wells Fargo Adds $7 Monthly Checking Fee

Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Wells Fargo customers in six states who had free checking accounts will pay $7 a month for paper statements starting in May, the bank said Thursday.

The plan is being rolled out in Georgia, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania, but the bank may reportedly expand to other regions.  Banks across the country are seeking new ways to raise fees after new federal consumer-protection regulations that have cut into profits.

Stephanie Wei, vice president of deposit products for consumer finance site NerdWallet, said the latest announcement lowers the bank’s ranking in its list of Top 5 banks for checking accounts.

NerdWallet found that big banks charge consumers an average of $110 a year if consumers can’t meet conditions to waive fees.

Wells Fargo previously had the lowest average of $60 a year.

Monthly fees across banks ranged from $5 to $12 for basic accounts and $10.95 to $30 for premium accounts. Overdraft fees range from $25 to $35, but some banks make concessions for small overdraft amounts. Except for Bank of America, all five big banks waive fees for current students.

Except for Citibank, which has no opening deposit requirement, other banks require $25-$100, for at least 24 hours, to open an account.

A spokeswoman for Wells Fargo said the bank began informing customers in those states earlier this month they would be charged a $5 fee with online statements for the basic “Essential Checking” accounts, if they do not qualify for a fee waiver. Many customers qualify for the fee waiver by having monthly direct deposits totaling $500 or by maintaining a minimum balance of $1,500, the bank said.

Lisa Westermann, Wells Fargo spokeswoman, said a large majority of customers will continue to have their monthly service fee waived.

She said each of the consumer checking and savings accounts the bank offers at least one, and in most cases, several ways to waive the monthly service fee.  Other accounts may qualify for a fee waiver by having a Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.

“All of our accounts offer significant value to our customers and we offer many additional services at no extra charge,” she said.

Wells Fargo says it hasn’t offered free checking to new customers since 2010. The bank says it started moving customers in California and other western states to the $7 fee last year and is expanding to six more states.

Banks have been adding and experimenting with fees, including Bank of America and its failed $5 debit card fee last year. The second-largest U.S. bank by assets announced in early January that it was testing fees in Arizona, Georgia and Massachusetts, which represent about 10 percent of its consumer business.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb102012

What the $25B Foreclosure Settlement Means For You

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- While the $25 billion foreclosure settlement announced on Thursday is a landmark multi-state deal, it is just a "drop in the bucket" that will help residents of some states more than others, housing advocates say.

The five biggest mortgage servicers, JPMorgan Chase, Citi, Ally Financial, Wells Fargo and Bank of America, have settled, but more lenders could potentially join later.  Under the deal, signed by 49 state attorney generals, 750,000 people could receive checks under the plan and another one million could see the size of their mortgages reduced.

President Obama said the deal could strengthen the overall economy but "by itself will not entirely heal the housing market."

"But this settlement is a start," the president continued.

Gordon Whitman, policy director for PICO National Network of faith-based community organizations, said the deal is "'too small."  The $10 billion in principal reduction compared to $700 billion in negative equity in the U.S. with an outstanding mortgage debt of $8.8 trillion is a "small drop in the bucket of what really needs to be done."

"It needs and will lead to much more significant principle reduction for American homeowners," he said.  "There are a lot of people talking about closure. From our perspective, it's much more logical to think of this as a first step."

The size of the deals per state thus far reflect the commitment of each attorney general, Whitman said.  Homeowners can check the website NationalMortgageSettlement.com for more information by state, except for residents in Oklahoma.

"We think the continued advocacy by the attorney generals is the critical factor to make sure this is just a down payment on a full and fair settlement," Whitman said.

Scott Brown, chief economist with Raymond James, said the one million homeowners who may restructure their mortgages comprise only 10 percent of those underwater. Brown said the deal will not have a large impact on the U.S. economy or consumers.

"Every little bit helps and it will be significant for those restructuring, but it's not going to have a huge impact on the housing sector overall," he said. 

Payments of about $2,000 will be made to about three-quarters of a million households that were foreclosed on through abusive practices, distributed over three years.

"That will be good for those receiving checks, but the impact on overall consumer spending is likely to be relatively small," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb092012

Feds Announce $25B Foreclosure Abuse Deal

Office of the Maine Attorney General(WASHINGTON) -- Government officials announced on Thursday a record $25 billion settlement with the five biggest banks related to foreclosure abuses, including "robo-signing" of documents.

Among the money allocated will be $1.5 billion distributed nationwide to about 750,000 borrowers who lost their homes to foreclosure. The deal is the largest multi-state settlement since the Tobacco Settlement in 1998, the Department of Justice said.

Five banks -- Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Ally Financial -- will also have to "work off up to $17 billion in principal reduction and other forms of loan modification relief nationwide," and "provide up to $3 billion in refinancing relief nationwide," according to the settlement.

Attorney General Eric Holder said the deal by 49 state attorneys general, who worked late into the hours of Wednesday night, does not preclude states from pursuing their own suits against the banks.

Holder announced further terms of the deal would be on a website, NationalMortgageSettlement.com, and residents of the states involved should visit the sites of their respective attorneys general.

Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan said the settlement holds banks accountable for abuses against homeowners, which "continued long after people got the keys to their new home."

"No more lost paperwork, no more excuses, no more rhetoric," Donovan continued.

Donovan said the investigation comprised at least 15,000 hours of reviewing thousands of files of Federal Housing Administration insured loans.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb092012

Multi-Million Dollar Settlement over Foreclosure Abuses Near

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Federal and state officials are near a multi-billion dollar settlement with five of the nation's biggest banks over foreclosure abuses that took place during the housing crisis, ABC News has learned.

The Department of Justice will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. Thursday to announce an agreement in principal.

At least 42 states have agreed to sign onto the agreement.  New York and California were among the last holdouts and it wasn't clear whether they will join or sue separately.

The deal is estimated to be $25 billion and would involve Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Ally Financial.

Some of the money would go towards foreclosure prevention measures, such as lowering the loan balance for homeowners who are underwater, while other provisions could lower interest rates.

Another chunk would be set aside to compensate people who lost their homes.  Those homeowners may may get payouts of up to $2,000.

The settlement comes after banks were found to have taken part in "robo-signing" to speed up foreclosures after the housing bubble burst.  The practice involved the mass signing documents without verifying the accuracy of the paperwork.

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