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Illegal Mortgage Leads

Countrywide executive accused of selling customer data

September 10, 2008

By MortgageDaily.com staff

For two years, an executive of a Countrywide Financial Corp. unit was successfully operating a mortgage leads business using data he stole from the company. He downloaded the records of 20,000 borrowers each week -- until he was caught.

Rene Leonard Rebollo Jr. was a senior financial analyst at Full Spectrum Lending in Pasadena, Calif., according to a criminal complaint against him. He earned $63,000 annually plus an annual bonus of around $2,000.

He was also the "main cat" in a scheme where borrower information was stolen from the company and sold to mortgage brokers and lead brokers, court records indicate.

In the scope of his job at Full Spectrum -- which was integrated into Countrywide Bank FSB as of Jan. 1 -- Rebollo had access to many Countrywide Home Loan databases. Many of the databases included sensitive information such as borrower social security numbers.

He would regularly come in to the office on Sundays and access the databases for around one hour.

While Countrywide had installed a security feature on its computers that prevented the use of flash drives, Rebollo found one that didn't have the feature. He was able to save customer data to his personal flash drives purchased from stores like Best Buy and Target.

"Rebollo downloaded and sold the Countrywide Home Loan data to a third party 'a lot,'" the complaint said. "Rebollo estimated that he downloaded approximately 20,000 Countrywide Home Loan customer profiles every week for approximately two years."

He was able to sell a batch of 20,000 profiles for $500, depositing the illegal profits into a business account opened with Washington Mutual solely for use in the scheme. In all, estimated earnings were between $50,000 and $70,000.

He often provided specialized mortgage leads to his customers, including portfolio leads and newly declined leads.

Sometimes the flash drives were sold directly. Other times he e-mailed the contents of the flash drives from either a Kinko's computer or from his home computer.

Wahid Siddiqi also participated in the scheme, apparently getting the leads from Rebollo, the complaint indicates. But Siddiqi was able to garner better prices -- receiving $4,000 from one FBI informant for around 38,000 leads.

Siddiqi allegedly said the leads were "fresh from Countrywide" and included "full socials."

The scheme began to unravel in May when a witness who was at a nightclub drinking with a group that included Rebollo and Siddiqi identified the two to an FBI agent.

FBI agents visited Rebollo on July 15 at his office, and he voluntarily answered their questions. He admitted that he was responsible for a security breach in which borrower names, social security numbers and other confidential information were given to a third party.

However, Rebollo reportedly denied knowing Siddiqi.

Indictments were filed against Rebollo and Siddiqi in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Aug. 15.

"Countrywide investigators reported evidence of possible theft of personal account information to the FBI and continue to work closely with the FBI in its ongoing investigation," Countrywide said in a statement to MortgageDaily.com. "We have no evidence to date to indicate that any customer has been the victim of identity theft or fraud."

The Calabasas, Calif.-based company said it is notifying affected customers of the data breach and providing them with the opportunity to receive two years of credit-monitoring services at no charge. Countrywide did not respond to a request for a statement.

United States of America v. Rene Leonard Rebollo Jr.
Magistrate Case No. 08-1826M, July 31, 2008 (U.S. District Court, Central District of California)

United States of America v. Wahid Siddiqi
Magistrate Case No. 08-1829M, July 31, 2008 (U.S. District Court, Central District of California)

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