100,000 account holders warned on security breach


Over 100,000 bank customers are to be notified that sensitive account information had been stolen following the arrest of members of a cyber crime syndicate.

Officials at the Bank of America confirmed it is notifying 60,000 of its customers following theft of personal account information and social security numbers by a criminal gang. 48,000 account holders at Wachovia have also been told their details have been breached.

"We are trying to communicate with our customers as promptly as possible," said Bank of America spokeswoman Alex Liftman to AP. "So far, we have no evidence that any of our customer information has been used for account fraud or identity theft."

New Jersey Police said it was currently in the first stages of an investigation that uncovered the data theft from nearly 700,000 account holders.

It is alleged account information was illegally sold by bank employees to a man identified as Orazio Lembo, whom police said was illegally posing as a collection agency. Account details and balances on 670,000 accounts were found on 13 computers seized from Lembo by police earlier this week. He has been charged with multiple counts of illegally disclosing data from a database and one count of racketeering. If convicted he could spend up to 130 years in jail.

Other banks which had data stolen from them were Commerce Bancorp, and PNC Financial Services Group. Several former employees of these companies have been arrested in connection with the heist along with former employees at Bank of America and Wachovia. These employees are alleged to have received $10 for each account matched with a social security number. Lembo would then sell this data onto collection agencies for $150. Police said the scam had been in operation for four years.

Hackensack Police Chief Charles Zisa, who is leading the investigation, said the second phase of investigation would target more than 40 companies that solicited this account information.

Police believe the final figure of breached accounts could top the one million mark.

In February, Bank of America said computer tapes containing U.S. federal government customer information were lost during a shipment to a backup data center.

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