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Wells Fargo Repossessed Military Members' Cars

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Major bank Wells Fargo has acknowledged it has illegally repossessed around 860 cars belonging to military personnel.

Under federal law, banks must first obtain a court order before they can repossess a vehicle owned by a current military service member, CNN reported.

"I said, 'Hey, they can't do that!'” Dennis Singleton, whose vehicle was seized as he left for Afghanistan, told CNN Money. "Honestly, I just think it sucks."

In September 2016, the Department of Justice charged Wells Fargo with illegally taking possession of 413 vehicles. As part of that settlement, Wells Fargo has "identified additional violations," according to the Justice Department. The bank identified another 450 illegal repossessions that took place between January 2008 and July 2015.

"Losing an automobile through an unlawful repossession while serving our country is a problem service members should not have to confront," said acting U.S. Attorney Sandra Brown.

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In a statement, Wells Fargo noted that it is "ensuring all service member customers have the protections and benefits available to them."

The bank has committed to recompensing all customers affected by the illegal repossessions. Wells Fargo will repair the credit of those impacted, pay each person $10,000, as well as any lost equity in the vehicle, with interest.

The Justice Department announced Nov. 14 that the bank had committed an additional $5.4 million to recompense customers.

The news does not come at a good time for Wells Fargo. Senior Executive Vice President Franklin Codel, who became head of consumer lending in 2016, was fired, effective immediately, Nov. 17. He acted "in a manner that was contrary to the company's policies and expectations of its senior leaders," according to CNBC.

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Codel was a key executive in Wells Fargo's efforts to win back confidence from its customers.

The bank declined to provide details about why it fired Codel, but Reuters reports it was because he spoke to a former Wells Fargo employee, Greg Gwizdz, about Gwizdz's firing.

A source told Reuters that Codel discussed compensation with Gwizdz, but was not supposed to do so.

"Difficult as this situation is, the decision reflects our commitment to our values and culture and to executive accountability," Wells Fargo president and CEO Tim Sloan said, CNBC reported. "We have a strong team in consumer lending and I am fully confident that the transition will be smooth and that its business will continue to operate normally in serving our customers."

The bank has faced credibility problems following the revelation that employees opened millions of fake accounts to meet sales targets.

Sources: CNN Wire via WTIC, CNBC, Reuters / Featured Image: Pixabay / Embedded Images: Markus Qwertyus/Wikimedia Commons, Sara goth/Wikimedia Commons

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