From news sources to social media outlets, the entire nation seems abuzz about the recent announcement made by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau earlier this month, which indicated it would fine Wells Fargo $100 million. The announcement came after confirming reports that some of the financial institution’s employees had “opened accounts and shifted funds from consumers’ existing accounts into […] new accounts without their knowledge or permission.”
Even though approximately 5,300 employees have been terminated for their involvement in what some are calling a “pattern of fraud,” the agreement between Wells Fargo and the CFPB raises an interesting question:
Will implicated Wells Fargo employees face more than the loss of their job?
Under federal law, fraud is defined as the false representation of facts to deceive or with intent to deceive another. Oftentimes, fraud-related crimes are linked to monetary or property gain, which is what has so many Wells Fargo customers and non-customers so angry.
According to reports, employees were given incentives for meeting sales goals, even if the accounts turned out to be fraudulent. Some believe that because their actions constitute fraud, their punishment should be more than job loss. But will they face prosecution? This depends on the Department of Justice.
Protecting yourself against federal charges
In an agreement between Wells Fargo and the CFPB, the DoJ is said to be free to investigate the situation and press charges if the agency so chooses, which means implicated employees could face serious federal fraud charges in addition to harsh prosecution and steep consequences.
Although it remains to be seen whether the agency will take action or not, Wells Fargo employees may still want to seek legal representation in case legal action is taken against them. While prosecutors gather alleged evidence, those suspected of committing fraud can work with their attorney to build a strong strategy that can stand in their defense if the need should arise.