108,000 warned of privacy breach
By Associated Press
Published May 24, 2005
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - More than 100,000 customers of Wachovia Corp. and Bank of America Corp. have been notified that their financial records may have been stolen by bank employees and sold to collection agencies.
Bank of America has alerted about 60,000 customers whose names were included on computer discs discovered by police, bank spokeswoman Alex Liftman said Monday.
"We are trying to communicate with our customers as promptly as possible," she said. "So far, we have no evidence that any of our customer information has been used for account fraud or identity theft."
Wachovia said it has identified 48,000 current and former account holders whose accounts may have been breached.
"The numbers have increased as we continue to receive additional names from police," Wachovia spokeswoman Christy Phillips said Monday.
Both banks are providing the affected customers with free credit reporting services.
In a separate case with the potential for identity theft, a laptop containing the names and Social Security numbers of 16,500 current and former MCI Inc. employees was stolen last month from the car of an MCI financial analyst in Colorado, said company spokeswoman Linda Laughlin.
The car was parked in the analyst's home garage and the computer was password-protected, she said. MCI would not comment on whether the data was encrypted.
The bank record theft was exposed last month when police in Hackensack, N.J., charged nine people, including seven bank workers, in a plot to steal financial records of thousands of bank customers.
The bank employees accessed records for customers of Commerce Bank of Cherry Hill, N.J., PNC Bank of Pittsburgh, and Charlotte-based banks Wachovia and Bank of America, said Hackensack police Chief Ken Zisa.
Orazio Lembo Jr., 35, of Hackensack allegedly made millions of dollars through the scheme, Zisa has said.
Authorities said they discovered the plot after they executed a search warrant at Lembo's apartment in February as part of a separate investigation. They seized 13 computers that contained details about the plan, Zisa said.
Lembo received lists of people sought for debt collection and turned that information over to the seven bank workers, who would compare those names to their client lists. The bank workers were paid $10 for each account they turned over to Lembo, Zisa said.
[Last modified May 24, 2005, 03:00:27]