Wells Fargo fake account scandal may be bigger than thought

Lawyers seek to expand Wells Fargo fake account investigation

Attorneys for alleged victims of the Wells Fargo fake account scandal are now saying that the bank may have been responsible for more unauthorized accounts than previously thought.

In a legal filing, plaintiffs' attorneys in a class-action lawsuit say: "Based on public information, negotiations, and confirmatory discovery, the parties estimate the number of unauthorized accounts for the period 2002-2017 is approximately 3.5 million. This number may well be over-inclusive, but provides a reasonable basis on which to estimate a maximum recovery."

It's important to note that based on the results of the independent board review of the scandal, former CEO John Stumpf was not made aware of the systemic nature of the bank's sales practice problems until 2012, but was first aware of specific cases as early as 2002.

"The unauthorized account number reported in yesterday's filing are estimates made by the plaintiff attorneys based on a hypothetical scenario and have not been verified," Wells Fargo representative Ancel Martinez said in a statement. "The number of unauthorized accounts estimated in the filing do not reflect actual unauthorized accounts."

Wells Fargo disclosed it entered into a settlement agreement in April 2017 in the company's most recent 10-Q. The bank disclosed it planned to pay $142 million for remediation, attorneys' fees and settlement fund claims administration. It also noted that the settlement was still subject to approval by the District Court.

The case is being handled in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, in San Francisco.

Watch: Buffett says Wells Fargo obviously incentivized the wrong thing

Buffett: Wells Fargo obviously incentivized the wrong thing