Competition for business in the small town of Antioch east of San Francisco must be pretty fierce - fierce enough at least for one giant bank to spread an unfounded rumor that a tiny competitor was about to fail.

A spokesman for Wells Fargo Bank confirmed that two of its business development employees spread the rumor, a violation of law in California, but stressed it was "an isolated incident" involving two employees. Wells made a private monetary settlement with the small bank.

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