A year after thousands of Wells Fargo employees were accused of opening unauthorized accounts in customers’ name in order to make sales goals, one bank teller has pleaded guilty to also opening an account without authorization, this time, in order to steal more than $185,000 from one customer.
The 29-year-old former Wells Fargo bank teller pleaded guilty [PDF] this week to a federal felony count of transporting stolen property.
According to court documents [PDF], over three years, the man — who worked at a Wells Fargo branch in D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood — stole thousands of dollars from a customer identified as a homeless street vendor and used the funds to buy a home, go on vacation, and pay off other debts.
The scheme began in Oct. 2014 when a customer entered the Wells Fargo branch wanting to deposit “thousands of dollars of cash” that he was carrying in garbage bags. It’s unclear how or why the customer had so much money on hand.
Surprised by the amount of cash the customer had on him and the amount already in his account, the teller proceeded to open a new account in the customer’s name by forging his signature.
The teller then set up an ATM card, PIN, email address, and online login information for the new account. To begin with, the teller transferred $3,000 to the new account.
However, the customer never had access to this account, and the teller used it for his own gain.
Over the next two years, the teller transferred $177,400 between the customer’s accounts, withdrawing $185,440. Because the funds were transported over state lines to the man’s home in Maryland he was charged with the federal felony.
The customer did not receive mailed statements, use email, or have access to a computer; as such, he did not know the fraud was occurring.
Under the man’s plea deal, he will pay back the stolen money. He could also face between 18 to 30 months in prison.