November 7, 2016
What We’re Reading This Week
Many banks today are more like tech companies that also happen to do banking. I could link to a bunch of articles but I’d rather you just trust me. Anyway, now there is a web platform that trains and grades people’s ability to write code called HackerRank. Large financial companies have been using the site to make hiring decisions:
For instance, “So last year, Furlong, 30, enrolled in a three-month coding boot camp that uses HackerRank, a web platform that trains and grades people on writing computer code. After earning a top ranking for Java developers globally, Furlong was hired by JPMorgan Chase & Co. in December for its two-year technology training program.”
A cursory internet search provided me with the following two definitions for “hacker”:
- 1) a person who uses computers to gain unauthorized access to data
- 2) a person or thing that hacks or cuts roughly
I don’t think banks should really be hiring either one of those things. Admittedly, Computer Coder Rank doesn’t sound nearly as cool but I’m just not sure banks need to be hiring people from a service that associates itself with the idea that people will use computers to do something illegal. There’s also the story of William Ross, a computer programmer who has claimed he achieved a top rank by simply copying and pasting his answers to test questions from the website’s discussion board. I don’t think that banks could completely avoid recent scandals by hiring different programmers but I also feel like if they hired less cheaters from sites that promote hacking they could mitigate at least some risk. No?
You know how sometimes your hedge fund gets a surprise inspection from the FBI and you are caught off guard? Well now you can just download the Murphy & McGonigle Surprise Law Enforcement Response app for your cell phone. I guess criminals needs apps too? There is a weird disconnect between white collar crime and…I don’t want to call them blue collar crimes because that seems a little discriminatory so let’s call them obvious crimes. You know, like murder. I didn’t look or anything but I have to assume there’s no app called “How to do a Murder.” I feel like if you made that app they would probably just arrest you. Maybe that’s the angle I’m missing here? I like the idea that a law enforcement agency made a fake app to help people handle securities fraud then just sat back and waited to investigate people that download the app. Almost too easy, right?
People still hate banks
I don’t think it counts as writing about the Wells Fargo scandal if it’s a different scandal right? Wells Fargo just paid $50 million to settle a racketeering lawsuit because they overcharged defaulted home borrowers for appraisals during the foreclosure process. I mean c’mon! Racketeering sounds pretty bad but I guess I sort of see how this could happen. If I lent someone money and then they tried to not pay me money I would feel like I had some leeway in how I got at least some of my money back. In this case, the bank had a house to help them get some of their money back but still. The whole thing is a great example of how public sentiment has changed since the financial crisis. People used to look at defaulted borrows with more than a little contempt. Now people seem to be…more forgiving. Banks have become the bad guy and gouging people after taking their home feels like a worse crime than it would have prior to 2008. What can I say? It was a different time. We were younger, more carefree. For the past 8 years banks have been exposed for countless corruptions and misdeeds. No one really feels like they have paid for those crimes in a meaningful way and banks will have to get used to being sued over every little misstep along the way.
So the question is, how does overcharging for appraisals amount to racketeering? By sending the invoices through the US mail and hiding the additional costs. If you can prove (and they did) that Wells Fargo purposefully hid those fees then you have a pretty black and while mail and wire fraud case as soon as those statement went in the mail. That’s enough to land the racketeering charge.
Is there some part of you that wonders if the whole fake account thing was just a misdirection to make this seem like it wasn’t a big deal? I mean what’s a little racketeering compared to opening fake accounts for customers? Maybe this will be a trend in banking.
Gainplan LLC provides links for your convenience to websites produced by other providers or industry related material. Accessing websites through links directs you away from our website. Gainplan LLC is not responsible for errors or omissions in the material on third party websites, and does not necessarily approve of or endorse the information provided. Users who gain access to third party websites may be subject to the copyright and other restrictions on use imposed by those providers and assume responsibility and risk from use of those websites.