October 25, 2016 / 9:02 PM / in a year

When scandal strikes, pity the other guy named John Stumpf

NEW YORK (Reuters) - It has been a rough couple of weeks to be named John Stumpf.

An 1860's era stagecoach is displayed at the Wells Fargo & Co. bank in downtown Denver, Colorado, U.S. April 13, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

Ever since the former Wells Fargo & Co chief executive by that name stepped down over a sales scandal at the U.S. bank, John Stumpf, a Petco worker living in Bakersfield, California, has been the butt of jokes.

“It was pretty annoying,” said Stumpf, 30, of the ribbing he has received from friends, including articles shared on his Facebook wall. “People would post, ‘You’ve been lying to me. You’ve got all this money.’ It was like, okay. If I (did), do you think I’d have student loans?”

It’s a common problem. A review of public records found dozens of people across the U.S. who happen to share names with disgraced bankers, infamous Ponzi schemers, convicted securities fraudsters, and even fictional Wall Street villains Gordon Gekko and Patrick Bateman.

Those reached by Reuters said their names represented more of an occasional inconvenience than a serious impediment to their lives or careers. With headlines blaring about Wells Fargo opening as many as two million accounts in customers’ names without their permission, it became an even bigger nuisance for those name-doppelgangers.

Take the guy who is actually named Wells Fargo.

A 54-year-old engineer living in Colorado Springs, Fargo has developed a sense of humor about all the mistaken phone calls he has received from debt collection agencies and angry bank customers over the years.

Born William George Fargo, he was named after the pioneering businessman who co-founded the bank and eventually adopted the first name Wells. Playing high school sports, he was also called “Stagecoach,” a reference to Wells Fargo’s iconic branding of a red-and-gold coach pulled by horses.

When he introduces himself in social settings, people sometimes respond, “Yeah, and I‘m Bank of America,” Fargo said.

He has gotten some light teasing since the scandal broke. But with a name like Wells Fargo, he has learned how to roll with the punches.

Fargo orders cases of Nestle’s “100 GRAND” candy bars. Whenever someone makes fun of his name, he hands them a chocolate bar and says, “Here’s a 100 GRAND. How often to you get 100 grand from Wells Fargo?”

People born with Wall Street names that turn infamous say it has not always been a bad thing.

For instance, a 30-year-old accountant in Minneapolis named John Stumpf says he was able to get a personal loan from Wells Fargo in record time after submitting an online request to meet with a local banker.

“I got a call back within about three seconds from a loan officer who thought I was his boss,” Stumpf said.

Reporting By Elizabeth Dilts; Editing by Lauren Tara LaCapra

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