Struggling home mortgage lender Countrywide, already hit hard by the lending crisis and an investigation into potential fraud at the company, now faces another crisis: One of its employees has been charged for allegedly stealing personal information about customers.
Rene Rebollo was arrested on Friday by agents with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in California, who say he stole and then sold personal information about Countrywide customers throughout the country over a two-year period.
Rebollo worked as a senior financial analyst for Countrywide Home Loan's subprime mortgage division, where he had access to Countrywide databases containing customer data, according to the complaint against him. Using his computer at work, he saved the customer data onto his own flash drives to remove it from the office, the FBI alleges. About a month ago, during an interview by FBI agents, Rebollo admitted he gave out the account information to third parties, according to the complaint.
Rebollo lost his job with Countrywide in July.
Another man, Wahid Siddiqi, was arrested for allegedly buying the stolen data and also selling it.
The effort may not have been worth the potential prison time to Rebollo. He said he opened a bank account specifically for holding the proceeds of the illegal sales and in total earned US$50,000 to $70,000, according to the charges against him, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles.
Rebollo faces a maximum of five years in federal prison, while Siddiqi could get as many as 15 years in prison.
Countrywide, which is now a division of Bank of America, is analyzing the stolen data to determine whether any customer identities have been compromised. If they have, the company says it will notify the customers, according to a statement from the FBI.
Neither Countrywide nor Bank of America issued statements about the matter. A Bank of America spokesman did not immediately reply to a request for comment.