Wells Fargo Fires Employees for Faking Mouse Activity

Wells Fargo Fires Employees for Faking Mouse Activity
Wells Fargo & Co. bank signage is displayed outside of bank branch in Beverly Hills, Calif., on May 4, 2023. (Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

Wells Fargo fired several employees for faking mouse movement and keyboard strokes when working from home.

Wells Fargo reported this week that it has fired more than a dozen people for “simulation of keyboard activity.” Bloomberg first reported on it, citing filings to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

The fired employees worked in the bank’s wealth and investment management unit, according to the report.

The employees might have used physical devices or software such as “mouse jigglers” to simulate activity on their screens.

“Wells Fargo holds employees to the highest standards and does not tolerate unethical behavior,” a spokesperson said in a statement.

It wasn’t clear from the regulatory disclosures if the employees were fired for allegedly faking active work from home, the report added.

“Managers often assume the worst when they see someone’s away, and so they’re looking for any type of data to show that that’s true,” Ashley Herd, founder of management training firm Manager Method said. “So, team members are going to innovate around that.”

Wells Fargo in early 2022 had asked most of its employees, including those in customer-facing roles, to return to the office and work under a hybrid flexible model.

Wells Fargo’s Problems

Since 2016, Wells Fargo has spent billions of dollars settling civil and criminal charges related to a multiyear scheme that led to more than 2 million fake accounts being opened without customers’ consent or knowledge—a practice that began when managers began setting unrealistic sales goals for employees.

In 2018, Wells Fargo agreed to a joint $1 billion settlement with regulators, who found the bank had wrongly layered insurance on hundreds of thousands of drivers and routinely assessed excessive and improper fees on homebuyers.

In 2020, Wells Fargo agreed to pay $3 billion to resolve civil and criminal probes into the firm’s fraudulent and high-pressure sales practices. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the top U.S. banking regulator, previously slapped eight former executives with more than $58 million in fines.

In 2021, the OCC fined Wells Fargo $250 million and placed new restrictions on the bank’s business after finding shortcomings in its earlier efforts to pay back customers it had previously harmed.

Last year, the former head of the bank’s retail operation was sentenced to three years of probation, while the bank’s former CEO was banned from the industry.

Since then, Wells Fargo has been trying to reform its own internal culture while trying to repair its brand.

The CNN Wire contributed to this report.