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Wells Fargo Potential Unauthorized Accounts Grows to 3.5 Million

by Ben Popken /
A man uses a Wells Fargo ATM in Charlotte, North Carolina, on April 13.Chuck Burton / AP file

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It turns out the Wells Fargo stage coach was even more off the rails than anyone thought.

The bank announced Thursday that a newly expanded investigative review period flagged a total of 3.5 million potentially unauthorized accounts, up from the 2.1 million previously identified.

Wells Fargo said it was earmarking an additional $2.8 million to pay back customers harmed by the scheme.

Last year the bank paid a $185 million fine for opening up accounts using phony information or without customer approval, and its now former CEO John Stumpf was hauled to testify before Congress. Several other bank executives also resigned in the scandal's wake.

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Former bank employees have stepped forward to describe a pressure-cooker sales environment that prized beating high daily account opening goals.

Top company execs pushed employees to aim for the "Great 8" and sell eight financial products per household. According to reports, local branch managers would be expected to not only meet but beat by 120 percent of their daily account goals handed down by regional bosses, or get called out in front of all the other managers on a daily conference call.

Related: Wells Fargo Faces Costly Overhaul of Bankrupt Sales Culture

In order to meet the goals, employees say some resorted to signing up their friends and family and even created fake email addresses to sign up customers without their approval.

Former managers who complained about ethical lapses they saw as a result of trying to meet the internal goals claim they were fired as a result, with punitive black marks put on their employee records. Many have filed wrongful termination lawsuits. Others say they were fired for not meeting the outsized performance objectives.

"[We were told to open] seven checking accounts, 42 solutions a day. How can I do that?" former Wells Fargo Allentown, Pennsylvania branch manager Julie Miller told NBC News. "We begged and pleaded with people to open accounts so we didn’t lose our jobs."

The new CEO Timothy Sloan said on a conference call Thursday morning that the bank was going to target its efforts on paying back customers and win back their loyalty.

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

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