Anonymous hackers release Bank of America emails

Emails obtained by someone claiming to be former bank employee appear to show improper sub-prime lending practices

The hacker group Anonymous has released a cache of emails obtained from someone said to be a former Bank of America employee.

The group alleges that the emails, dating from November 2010, detail improper lending practices at the bank, an allegation the bank denies. The leak comes as consumer groups have accused major US lenders of foreclosing on many homes without having proper documentation in place.

The emails detail correspondence between employees of Balboa Insurance, a Bank of America insurance unit, in which they appear to be discussing the removal of details from documents in loan files.

The bank acquired Balboa when it bought Countrywide Financial in 2008. Countrywide was the US's largest seller of sub-prime home loans. Last month Bank of America announced plans to sell Balboa.

The emails detail one loan related to GMAC, one of the largest mortgage lenders in the US.

"The following GMAC DTN's need to have the images removed from Tracksource/Rembrandt," an operations team manager at Balboa wrote. DTN refers to document tracking number, and Tracksource/Rembrandt is an insurance tracking system.

In reply, the Balboa employee wrote: "I have spoken to my developer and she stated that we cannot remove the DTNs from Rembrandt, but she can remove the loan numbers, so the documents will not show as matched to those loans."

According to the emails, approval was given to remove the loan numbers from the documents.

Anonymous also released correspondence between the group and the former employee in which the ex-worker described the bank as a "cult" and said the company was now intent on destroying his career. "I'm well known throughout Bank of America. They saw to that when they showed everyone my picture and labelled me as a terrorist," the former employee said in one email.

A representative of Anonymous told Reuters that the documents related to the issue of whether Bank of America has improperly foreclosed on homes. The bank was not immediately available for comment but a spokesman told Reuters that the documents had been stolen by a former Balboa employee, and were not tied to foreclosures. "We are confident that his extravagant assertions are untrue," the spokesman said.

Anonymous has close ties to WikiLeaks, whose founder Julian Assange said last November that he planned a major leak about a bank, leading to speculation that Bank of America was the target.

Last month Bank of America agreed to sell Balboa to QBE of Australia for $700m and liabilities of $1.2bn.


Dominic Rushe in New York

The GuardianTramp

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