High-ranking Wachovia bank executives knew about fraudulent and deceptive practices by one of its telemarketing firms, but continued to provide services to them anyway, The New York Times writes.

In contrast to denials by bank executives last spring, internal Wachovia e-mail and other documents show that Wachovia was alerted by other banks and federal agencies about deceptive practices, but the bank continued to provide services to multiple companies that collectively stole as much as $400 million from clients.

“YIKES!!!!” wrote one Wachovia executive in 2005, in a warning to colleagues that an account used by telemarketers had drawn 4,500 complaints in two months. “DOUBLE YIKES!!!!” the executive added. “There is more, but nothing more that I want to put into a note.”

Wachovia continued to process fraudulent transactions for that account, partly because the bank charges fraud artists a large fee every time a victim spotted a bogus transaction and demanded their money back. One company paid Wachovia about $1.5 million over 11 months, according to investigators.

“We are making a ton of money from them,” wrote Linda Pera, a former Wachovia executive, about a company that was later accused by federal prosecutors of helping steal up to $142 million.

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