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Wells Fargo Workers: Fake Accounts Began Years Ago

(CNN MONEY) Wells Fargo's fake accounts have been around a long time.

Almost a dozen Wells Fargo (WFC) workers told CNNMoney that the shocking tactic -- where employees opened unauthorized accounts to meet unrealistic sales goals -- has been around much longer than the bank has acknowledged.

"These practices were going on way before 2011," said Susan Fischer, a former Wells Fargo branch manager, who worked at the bank for five years, starting in 2004.

Americans were stunned to learn earlier this month that Wells Fargo employees had opened as many as two million fake accounts since 2011, and that 5,300 people had been fired as part of the scam since then.

The Justice Department launched an investigation two weeks ago. Two Congressional hearings have been called. CEO John Stumpf was skewered in the Senate last week and the House hearing is scheduled for this Thursday.

Fischer said she remembers her district manager instructing her in 2007 to make the employees reporting to her open unauthorized accounts. It was about a year after she moved from Wisconsin to Arizona to manage a Wells Fargo branch.

"My district manager told me, 'Do whatever you need to do,'" Fischer said.

But Fischer ran into trouble when she refused take part in fraudulent activity. Superiors said she wasn't hitting her goals. Soon, Fischer got so stressed from her work environment that she had to take a medical leave of absence and wasn't allowed to return.

"It took a huge chunk of my life and my income," said Fischer.

Why is the former Wells Fargo branch boss speaking up now? "If someone doesn't stand up, this is going to continue," she said.

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