Security Watch

By Wolfe, Daniel | American Banker, August 6, 2008 | Go to article overview

Security Watch


Wolfe, Daniel, American Banker


Byline: Daniel Wolfe

TJX Indictment

Eleven people have been indicted in connection with the data breach TJX Cos. Inc. disclosed last year.

Michael Sullivan, the U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, said Tuesday that a federal grand jury in Boston returned an indictment against Albert Gonzalez, the Miami man accused of leading the crime ring involved in the breach.

He and 10 other people, from the United States, Estonia, Ukraine, China, and Belarus, are accused of stealing up 40 million card accounts from the Framingham, Mass., retailer and several other merchants. The data was then resold in the United States and in Eastern Europe.

Though most of the data was stolen from TJX, the suspects also targeted BJ's Wholesale Club Inc., OfficeMax Inc., Boston Market Corp., Barnes & Noble Inc., Sports Authority Inc., Forever 21 Inc., and DSW Inc., Mr. Sullivan said.

Mr. Gonzalez has been charged with computer fraud, access-device fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy, and aggravated identity theft. If convicted on all charges, he could be sentenced to life in prison.

In 2003 he was arrested by the Secret Service for access device fraud, and in May of this year he was charged in New York with attempting to hack into the computer networks of Dave & Buster's Inc.; he is still in custody there.

Loan Woes

Up to 2 million mortgage applicants may have had their personal information stolen and resold by two men, including a former Countrywide Financial Corp. employee.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested two people last week for allegedly stealing the applicants' Social Security numbers and other personal information over two years, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

Rene L. Rebollo Jr., 36, worked for Countrywide's subprime lending division, Full Spectrum Lending. He was charged with unauthorized access to a financial institution's computers. The other suspect, Wahid Siddiqi, allegedly resold the stolen data and was charged with fraud.

According to an affidavit, Mr. Rebollo told investigators that he resold batches of data on several thousand applicants to other companies for $400 to $500. Some of the applicants had been denied loans by Countrywide (which Bank of America Corp. bought last month).

The computer Mr. Rebollo used to copy the data did not have the same security measures installed as other Full Spectrum computers, the FBI said. He is accused of copying data on 20,000 customers at a time on to a flash drive, typically on Sunday nights.

"Some, perhaps most, and possibly all the names were being sold to people in the mortgage industry to make new pitches," Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California, told the Times.

Investigators said they were unaware of any cases in which the information was used for identity theft or other forms of financial fraud. A Countrywide spokeswoman told the Associated Press for an article published last week that her company is offering two years of credit monitoring to the affected individuals.

Passport Problem

About 3,000 blank British passports were stolen when a security van delivering the documents from London to Manchester last month was hijacked. …

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