Internet whistle-blower e-mails show loose link to Bank of America
An activist internet group called Anonymous dumped a string of confidential, internal Balboa Insurance Group e-mails online Monday morning. The group is claiming the correspondence reveals improprieties in how the firm handled mortgages — even possibly hiding foreclosure tracking information — while Balboa was still under the Bank of America umbrella. Bank of America acquired Balboa during the takeover of Countrywide Financial which closed in January 2008. The e-mails were handed over by a former employee of Balboa Insurance Group, the Anonymous group claims. Balboa is a former unit of BofA that works to track mortgage insurance. The agency also forces insurance on loans that lack underlying coverage. A spokesperson for BofA was not immediately available for comment. The string of e-mails are vague and unorganized. All e-mails include a disclosure from Balboa at the bottom. Direct Bank of America employees are not named in the e-mails. The former employee claims he released the records to reveal unseemly behavior in how the bank handled loans and possibly foreclosures. The e-mails in question were exchanged by Balboa employees in late 2010. In early February, Bank of America sold Balboa to QBE Insurance Group for $700 million. The e-mail exchanges, which have not been authenticated by BofA or Balboa, show employees discussing the removal of tracking numbers that tie mortgage loans to other documents. The leaked e-mails do not elaborate on why employees wanted the tracking codes detached from other records. In one e-mail an employee involved in the dumping of loan tracking numbers writes: "I'm just a little concerned about the impact this has on the department and company. Why are we removing all record of this error? We have told …., and there is always going to be the paper trail when one of these sent documents come back, this to me, seems to be a huge red flag for auditors. What am I missing? This just doesn't seem right to me." In one exchange with Anonymous, the whistle-blower discusses how Balboa allegedly is able to implement inflated premiums on customers. Q: How is Balboa able to charge such inflated premiums and get away with it? A: Former Employee: It’s all very simple. First, when you call in to customer service, for say, GMAC, you’re not actually speaking to a GMAC employee. You’re actually speaking to a Bank of America associate working for Balboa Insurance who is required by their business to business contract with GMAC to state that they are, in fact, an employee of GMAC. The reasoning is that if you do not realize you’re speaking to a Bank of America/Balboa Insurance employee, you have no reason to question the validity of the information you are receiving from them. If you call your insurance agent and ask them for the lienholder information for your GMAC/Wells Fargo/etc lien (home or auto) you will be provided with their name, but the mailing address will be a PO Box at one of Balboa’s 3 main tracking locations (Moon Township/Coreaopolis, PA, Dallas/Ft Worth, TX, or Phoenix/Chandler, AZ). The leak comes a little more than a month after WikiLeaks, the site known for leaking confidential data, suggested it had inside knowledge of troubles within Bank of America. Wikileaks warned in February that a law firm working for Bank of America had hired three data intelligence companies to attack WikiLeaks. Anonymous is unaffiliated with WikiLeaks. Write to Kerri Panchuk.