Wells Fargo opened 3.5 million bogus accounts

New probe raises earlier estimates

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SAN FRANCISCO — Wells Fargo has increased its estimate for the amount of bogus bank accounts opened without permission of customers to 3.5 million, the bank disclosed Thursday.

The bank initially had estimated up to 2.1 million bogus checking or credit accounts were opened without the permission of its customers.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo was fined $185 million for its role in allowing the accounts to be opened fraudulently. The accounts scandal came to light in September 2016.

“We apologize to everyone who was harmed by unacceptable sales practices that occurred in our retail bank,” Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan said Thursday.

The estimate arose out of a third-party probe commissioned by the bank.

“To rebuild trust and to build a better Wells Fargo, our first priority is to make things right for our customers,” Sloan said. “The completion of this expanded third-party analysis is an important milestone.”

The third-party check created a system that erred on the side of customers in determining if an account had been opened fraudulently.

Wells Fargo’s initial analysis examined 93.5 million current and four accounts opened during the period from May 2011 through mid-2015. The expanded analysis scrutinized 165 million retail banking accounts over a nearly eight-year period, from January 2009 through September 2016.

“The account review analyzed consumer and small business checking, savings and unsecured credit card and line of credit account data to identify potentially unauthorized accounts,” Sloan said.

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