By Dan Goodin in San Francisco
4th August 2008
A financial analyst for Countrywide Home Financial, one of the world's
biggest and most troubled mortgage lenders, has been arrested and
charged with stealing personal information concerning a breathtaking
number of the company's customers.
Rene Rebollo, 36, of Pasadena, California, downloaded 20,000 customer
profiles including names and social security numbers just about every
week for about two years, according to documents filed in federal court
in Los Angeles. He would then sell the purloined information for about
$500 per 20,000 profiles to various buyers. He netted as much as $70,000
through the scheme, prosecutors alleged.
Although Countrywide had technology in place to disable flash drives on
employee computers, Rebollo was able to circumvent the safeguard by
making use of a PC that didn't have it installed. Countrywide is one of
the biggest providers of subprime mortgages, which offered people with
bad credit housing loans. In many cases, the loans came with low
introductory interest rates that would eventually reset to much higher
rates. Attorneys general from Illinois and California have sued the
lender for practices that were allegedly unfair and deceptive.
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