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Wells Fargo Fires Over a Dozen for ‘Simulation of Keyboard Activity’

Wells Fargo Fires Over a Dozen for ‘Simulation of Keyboard Activity’

(Bloomberg) — Wells Fargo & Co. fired more than a dozen employees last month after investigating claims that they were faking work.

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The staffers, all in the firm’s wealth- and investment-management unit, were “discharged after review of allegations involving simulation of keyboard activity creating impression of active work,” according to disclosures filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

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

Devices and software to imitate employee activity, sometimes known as “mouse movers” or “mouse jigglers,” took off during the pandemic-spurred work-from-home era, with people swapping tips for using them on social-media sites Reddit and TikTok. Such gadgets are available on Amazon.com for less than $20.

It’s unclear from the Finra disclosures whether the employees Wells Fargo fired were allegedly faking active work from home. The finance industry was among the most aggressive in ordering workers back to the office as the pandemic waned, though Wells Fargo waited longer than rivals JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo started requiring employees to return to the office under a “hybrid flexible model” in early 2022. The bank now expects most staffers to be in the office at least three days a week, while members of management committee are in four days and many employees, such as branch workers, are in five days.

The nation’s fourth-largest lender has sought to grow in wealth management under Chief Executive Officer Charlie Scharf and his deputy, Barry Sommers, who joined the firm in 2020. The unit was hit particularly hard by a series of scandals that erupted in 2016, sending advisers fleeing by the thousands, taking lucrative clients with them.

The recent firings have echoes of another episode at Wells Fargo from 2018, when the firm investigated employees in its investment bank for alleged violations of its expense policy after they tried to get the company to pay for ineligible evening meals.

–With assistance from Noah Buhayar and Dean Halford.

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