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A lawsuit filed in San Francisco federal court accuses Wells Fargo of pressuring workers to open so many accounts and provide so many other services that the employees deceived and defrauded customers across the country.

By E. Scott Reckard
May 13, 2015

A former Wells Fargo & Co. customer accused the San Francisco banking firm in a lawsuit of fostering a high-pressure sales culture that ended up deceiving and defrauding him and customers nationwide.

Shahriar Jabbari of Campbell, Calif., asked a federal court in the suit filed Wednesday to certify his complaint as a class action on behalf of consumers across the country who allege they were victims of Wells Fargo’s tolerance and encouragement of abuses by workers in its branches.

It mirrors accusations in a state lawsuit filed last week by Los Angeles City Atty. Michael Feuer, who said the San Francisco bank’s pressure tactics amounted to a “fee generating machine” that encouraged employees to misuse customer information to open unwanted accounts.

Feuer’s suit said employees at Wells Fargo, the largest California-based bank, hid fees, refused to close accounts on request and forged signatures and addresses. Some customers never realized they had accounts until collection agencies came calling, Feuer said.

His accusations echoed a 2013 Los Angeles Times investigation that found that Wells Fargo employees across the country feared for their jobs unless they cheated to meet quotas passed down from regional executives to branch managers.

Wells Fargo said last week that it would defend itself vigorously, describing its culture as “focused on the best interests of its customers and creating a supportive, caring and ethical environment for our team members.”

Spokesman Ancel Martinez said Wednesday that the bank would not elaborate on that statement.

But it did challenge Jabbari’s new assertion that a Wells Fargo database called ClientTrack makes sensitive customer information accessible to all bank employees, enabling them to open new accounts for existing clients without the customers’ authorization.

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