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Bankers fired for ‘simulating’ being at their keyboards

Devices like "mouse jigglers" boomed in popularity during the Covid-19 pandemic
Devices like "mouse jigglers" boomed in popularity during the Covid-19 pandemic

Wall Street bank Wells Fargo has fired more than a dozen employees for allegedly faking being at their keyboards, as financial firms crack down on non-compliance among hybrid workers.

The bank said it dismissed the staff last month “after review of allegations involving simulation of keyboard activity creating impression of active work”, according to filings with the US Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (Finra).

The staff were all employed in Wells Fargo’s investment and wealth management divisions, with many having joined within the last two years. At least one had worked for the lender for more than seven years.

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“Wells Fargo holds employees to the highest standards and does not tolerate unethical behavior,” a spokesperson for the bank commented.

It is not clear from the Finra filings what techniques the staff had used to allegedly fake work. As working from home grew more popular during the Covid-19 pandemic, devices like “mouse jigglers” boomed in popularity, designed to fool bosses into thinking staff are actively working when they are not.

Finra recently reinstated workplace rules that were loosened during the pandemic that some have warned would force firms to inspect staff’s home office set-ups and put a strain on hybrid working arrangements.

Last month, Barclays and Citigroup told hundreds of workers they would have to come into the office five days a week from June, in response to Finra’s regulations that they said would make it more difficult for them to keep remote workers.

Wall Street firms have been among the most aggressive in ordering staff back to the office. Wells Fargo moved slower than the likes of JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs, although it now expects most staff to be in the office for at least three days per week.

In January, Bank of America sent “letters of education” to employees threatening disciplinary action if they didn’t clock a minimum number of days in the office.