Wells Fargo committed criminal fraud against its customers. For a thorough reporting of the insanity, I suggest reading Matt Levine’s article. Employees of the bank opened 1.5 million bank accounts and applied for 500 thousand credit cards, using their customer’s personal identifying information, without their consent or knowledge.
Federal criminal defense attorneys are well aware of the crime of Aggravated Identity Theft as codified under 18 U.S.C. 1028(A).
Whoever, during and in relation to any felony violation enumerated in subsection (c), knowingly transfers, possesses, or uses, without lawful authority, a means of identification of another person shall, in addition to the punishment provided for such felony, be sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 2 years.
This crime requires two years of mandatory prison time. We have clients every day who are bullied into plea deals when faced with jail time. If we agree to plead guilty, the prosecutor may agree to drop the mandatory prison count. But, only after kissing the gold off of the AUSAs pinky ring. (and sometimes not even then)
I’ve had clients who took literally 1/1,000 of the amount of funds Wells Fargo took and get sent to jail for 5 or 6 years. Why? Because crime pays (if you can pay)
I’m not suggesting we send these poor saps at Wells Fargo to prison. Corporate greed demands that the lower level folks commit acts that are immoral and unethical. (sometimes illegal) And, If anyone gets caught the company just writes a check.
What I am suggesting: The DOJ policy on prosecution of financial crimes is completely incoherent and fully unethical. The rich or those “too big to fail” are protected while the poor are prosecuted. Change your ways DOJ.