Wells Fargo Bank has been ordered to pay $185 million in fines and penalties to settle what the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau calls "the widespread illegal practice of secretly opening unauthorized deposit and credit card accounts."
Thousands of Wells Fargo employees opened the accounts in secret so they would get bonuses for hitting their sales targets, according to investigators. More than 2 million deposit and credit card accounts may have been created without customer authorization.
The bank must pay $100 million to the CFPB — the largest fine ever levied by the federal consumer watchdog. It also will pay $50 million to the city and county of Los Angeles, along with a $35 million penalty to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
It's also on the hook to pay full restitution to all victims of the scheme.
"Because of the severity of these violations, Wells Fargo is paying the largest penalty the CFPB has ever imposed," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. "Today's action should serve notice to the entire industry that financial incentive programs, if not monitored carefully, carry serious risks that can have serious legal consequences."