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8/5/2008
02:30 AM
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Ex-Countrywide Employee Charged With Selling Customer Data

Former mortgage group analyst grabbed personal information and saved it on USB flash drives

The FBI has busted a former Countrywide Home Loan worker who is suspected of downloading the personal data of some 20,000 customers a week over a period of two years and selling it to third parties.

Rene Rebollo Jr., 36, a former senior financial analyst with Countrywide Home Loan’s subprime mortgage division, who allegedly stored the data on USB flash drives, and Wahid Siddiqi, who allegedy purchased the data from Rebollo, were both arrested on Friday on charges related to the sale of the identities of Countrywide customers.

The FBI and investigators with Countrywide Finanical said in a criminal complaint that Rebollo, who was terminated from the company last month, had access to a Countrywide database with sensitive customer information. Rebollo told FBI agents that he had been selling the data outside the firm for two years and made about $70,000, according to the complaint.

Rebollo told the FBI that he got requests from other people to grab specific types of data from the Countrywide database. Siddiqi, 25, meanwhile, was caught in an FBI sting after ordering personal data for cash.

According to the FBI, Rebollo is charged with exceeding authorized access to the computer of a financial institution, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Siddiqi is charged with fraud and other illegal activity with access devices, and could face 15 years in prison.

According to a published report, the data may have been sold to companies that wanted to offer their own loans to the Countrywide victims. Up to 2 million Countrywide customer names were "run and sold," according to the report.

Phil Neray, vice president at Guardium, says Countrywide’s breach was caused in part by a lack of proper internal controls. "The lack of internal IT controls is perhaps indicative of a corporate culture that was less focused on internal controls than other objectives," Neray says.

— Kelly Jackson Higgins, Senior Editor, Dark Reading

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

 

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