Apple Is Loaning Its Brand to the Great Vampire Squid to Offer FDIC-Insured Savings Accounts

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: April 18, 2023

Apple, maker of the iPhone and one of the top brands in the world, has decided to get deeper in bed with Goldman Sachs, a Wall Street trading house with more than 100 years of ignominious history. Goldman Sachs was infamously branded as “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money” by Matt Taibbi in the pages of Rolling Stone.

Of all things to offer through Goldman Sachs, Apple thinks it’s a swell idea to offer a high-yielding, FDIC-insured savings account – that is ultimately backstopped by the U.S. taxpayer if Goldman Sachs blows up – which it came close to doing in 2008.

Apple’s credit card is already offered through Goldman Sachs. In an SEC filing on February 24, Goldman Sachs acknowledged that its credit card division is under federal investigation.  A check at the complaint database of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a federal agency, shows that hundreds of consumer complaints have been filed against the Goldman Sachs/Apple credit card.

The Apple credit card via Goldman Sachs was only launched three years ago in August of 2019. Goldman wrote the following at the time:

“Goldman Sachs is the issuer of the card and is responsible for underwriting, customer service, the underlying platform and all matters related to regulatory compliance through Goldman Sachs Bank USA.”

Among the hundreds of complaints filed at the CFPB is the following from a resident of Nevada. The complaint was filed on February 8 of this year: (Redacted material was done by the CFPB.)

“Late last year, Apple credit card pulled a hard inquiry on my credit and issued me an Apple credit card. I did not request this credit card, so I contacted XXXX about this matter. Apple credit card closed my account and stated to me that they noted my account was closed because they could not verify that I requested, authorized, or applied for this credit card. I believe this credit card was requested by an XXXX store agent, without my authorization, when I purchased a new iphone. I believe this because the agent signed me up for several other offers that I did not request. These matters have been resolved with XXXX. Regarding the hard inquiry, the XXXX representative told me to contact each credit reporting agency to request that the hard inquiry be removed from my credit report. XXXX will be reporting this account as closed due to unable to verify that I applied for the credit card. Thank you for assisting in the removal of the hard inquiry with each agency.”

In announcing the new savings account venture with Goldman Sachs yesterday, Apple provided the following information:

“Once a Savings account is set up, all future Daily Cash earned by the user will be automatically deposited into the account. The Daily Cash destination can also be changed at any time, and there’s no limit on how much Daily Cash users can earn. To build on their savings even further, users can deposit additional funds into their Savings account through a linked bank account, or from their Apple Cash balance.” [Bold emphasis added by Wall Street On Parade.]

Linking one’s primary bank account to anything connected to Goldman Sachs should be very carefully considered. Goldman Sachs is a global bank and has been a target of hackers in the past. (See here and here, for example.)

Complaints filed at the CFPB about the Apple/Goldman Sachs credit card include complaints regarding hacking. On January 13 of this year, the following hacking complaint was filed by a resident of California:

“I signed up for an Apple Card, and then my Apple account got hacked. I started getting charges on my Apple Card, and got billed statements by mail, but none of the charges were made by me. I’ve made numerous attempts to contact Apple, but they keep telling me to try to log into my account to fix the issue. I can not get into my card because it got hacked and the phone number connected to it has been changed by the hacker as well. They can not help me get into my account AND they can not stop the charges. My credit line on that card is also only {$12000.00}, but somehow this hacker his racked up charges upwards of {$30000.00} when this shouldn’t be even possible? Not a single transaction was from me, and I can not stop them. This is affecting my well being and also my credit score. I desperately need help to stop them and fix this situation. Please help me.”

On August 11 of last year, a resident of Michigan filed this complaint with the CFPB:

“A Goldman Sachs Apple Card was linked to this AppleID. I reported the hack to Apple within minutes of it happening. Despite my fast action in reporting the problem, the hacker then made purchases of approximately {$22000.00}. Other charges came through the account, as late as XX/XX/2022, despite the fact that all cards associated with this account were supposed blocked/frozen on XX/XX/XXXX. Access to my AppleID is lost forever as the hacker is in control of it. Goldman Sachs/Apple Card refuses to issue a new card using my new XXXX XXXX. They say I cannot apply for a new card until all issues are resolved and that I must cancel the old account and reapply for credit as if they do not know me nor my excellent history with that account. In order to reapply, the old card must be paid off in full, including a monthly installment purchase of a product from Apple. Account cancellation and reapplying will impact my credit score. The company said that my hacking/fraud may or may not be used in considering a new application for credit. As of today, two months later, the issues have not all been resolved. So, I wait.”

Dubious dealings at Goldman Sachs go all the way back to the leadup to the Wall Street financial crash of 1929. During the asset bubble of 1928, Goldman ran the Goldman Sachs Trading Company, a closed end fund (called a trust in those days) that Goldman Sachs created and offered to the public at $104 a share. The trust was filled with conflicted investments while paying Goldman a hefty management fee. Within a few years after the crash, the Goldman Sachs trust was trading at a buck and change. On May 20, 1932, Walter Sachs, President of the Goldman Sachs Trading Company, was interrogated by the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency. The Committee concluded that Goldman Sachs fleeced its customers to line its own pockets.

On April 27, 2010 the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations held a hearing and interviewed multiple executives of Goldman Sachs over its role in the subprime crisis. That hearing was following by an in-depth report from the Subcommittee. Among the findings were the following regarding Goldman Sachs:

“When Goldman Sachs realized the mortgage market was in decline, it took actions to profit from that decline at the expense of its clients. New documents detail how, in 2007, Goldman’s Structured Products Group twice amassed and profited from large net short positions in mortgage related securities. At the same time the firm was betting against the mortgage market as a whole, Goldman assembled and aggressively marketed to its clients poor quality CDOs that it actively bet against by taking large short positions in those transactions. New documents and information detail how Goldman recommended four CDOs, Hudson, Anderson, Timberwolf, and Abacus, to its clients without fully disclosing key information about those products, Goldman’s own market views, or its adverse economic interests.  For example, in Hudson, Goldman told investors that its interests were ‘aligned’ with theirs when, in fact, Goldman held 100% of the short side of the CDO and had adverse interests to the investors, and described Hudson’s assets were ‘sourced from the Street,’ when in fact, Goldman had selected and priced the assets without any third party involvement. New documents also reveal that, at one point in May 2007, Goldman Sachs unsuccessfully tried to execute a ‘short squeeze’ in the mortgage market so that Goldman could scoop up short positions at artificially depressed prices and profit as the mortgage market declined.”

Goldman Sachs also has the distinction of being the only Wall Street firm to have an executive submit his resignation via the OpEd page of the New York Times. On March 14, 2012, Greg Smith, a 12-year veteran of Goldman Sachs and a Vice President, explained why he was resigning, writing in part: “…how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as ‘muppets.’ ”

The muppets’ reference went viral as internet memes, including law professor and former Wall Street veteran Frank Partnoy reworking the lyrics of Bret McKenzie’s song, “Man or Muppet.” (See video below.)

For what Goldman Sachs has been up to more lately, see our reports: Goldman Sachs Criminally Charged by Justice Department – and Its Stock Closes Up $2.49 and Goldman Sachs Is Being Sued for 27 Separate Stock Offerings It Underwrote.

Good luck, Apple, with your co-branding idea from hell.

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