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Bank Goofs, and Judge Orders Gmail Account Nuked 594

An anonymous reader writes "The Rocky Mountain Bank, based in Wyoming, accidentally sent confidential financial information to the wrong Gmail account. When Google refused to identify the innocent account owner's information, citing its privacy policy, the bank filed in Federal court to have the account deactivated and the user's information revealed. District Judge James Ware granted the bank's request, with the result that the user has had his email access cut off without any wrongdoing or knowledge of why." The Reg's earlier story says, "Rocky Mountain Bank had asked to court to keep its suit under seal, hoping to avoid panic among its customers and a 'surge of inquiry.' But obviously, this wasn't successful."
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Bank Goofs, and Judge Orders Gmail Account Nuked

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  • Not a big surprise (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 26, 2009 @06:03PM (#29550903)

    This decision was handed down by "Lying Judge" Ware.

    Talk about lifetime appointment gone haywire.

  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:5, Informative)

    by FrozenGeek ( 1219968 ) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @06:04PM (#29550911)
    Because the customer in question gave the bank a gmail account and said "send me information via this email address". Do you really think that your ISP-based email address is any better than gmail? If so, could I interest you in some waterfront property in Florida? Seriously. Unless the contents of the email is encrypted before it is sent, assume the whole fricken' world (with lasers,even) has access to it.
  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:5, Informative)

    by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @06:11PM (#29550999)

    Because the customer in question gave the bank a gmail account and said "send me information via this email address".

    The bank is worried about a panic amongest it's customer base. So they obviously sent informtaion on a large number of their customers, that tells you the person requesting the info was not a bank customer but another financial institution or a company they contract with of some sort. These type of recipients are going to have their own domain names and mail servers running on them, so there's no reason the email should have been addressed to a gmail account to start with if it dealt with official business.

  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:5, Informative)

    by geekboy642 ( 799087 ) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @06:13PM (#29551021) Journal

    Actually that's not what happened.

    On Aug. 12, the bank mistakenly sent names, addresses, social security numbers and loan information of more than 1,300 customers to a Gmail address.

    That's a lot of very confidential information. No bank customer has the need or right to see anybody else private information, let alone 1299 of them. And you are a moron for thinking this was about somebody's bank statement going to the wrong address.

  • by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @06:35PM (#29551147) Homepage

    Neither can GMail, if you use IMAP or POP3.

  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 26, 2009 @07:05PM (#29551375)

    When families greedily take money from the banks that they can never hope to pay back, they're upstanding, respectable citizens.

    When the banks chartitably give money to people with no hope of giving it back, they're evil bastards out to screw everybody?

    That's a pretty fucked up world view you have.

  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:3, Informative)

    by geekboy642 ( 799087 ) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @07:26PM (#29551531) Journal

    Again, I repeat:
    This is not about a single statement going to the wrong customer. Regardless of the fact that a customer initially requested their own information, it is inexcusable for any bank to then send them--or any other person--over 1300 instances of confidential information. Nobody asked the bank to mail that information.

    Why are you attempting to apologize for the incompetence of the bank?

  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 26, 2009 @07:27PM (#29551545)

    If so, could I interest you in some waterfront property in Florida?

    Waterfront property in Florida is abundant. Florida is surrounded by water except on its northern state line, as well as being filled with lakes, marshes, and swampland. The saying is specifically "oceanfront property". The joke is, you say a landlocked state, such as... Arizona... and offer valuable "oceanfront property" there, because Arizona borders no ocean! Get it? It's a scam! You are supposed to know that Arizona has no ocean, just like you are supposed to know Florida is surround by water.

    Hey! There's even a song about the subject! []

  • Re:IMAP (Score:5, Informative)

    by Todd Knarr ( 15451 ) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @08:59PM (#29552177) Homepage

    I don't know about you, but if a bank suddenly sent me 1,300 account's financial information, and then sent me an email telling me not to open it, I would be sending an email, calling, writing a letter, anything, because if something happens later to any of those accounts, I'm going to be one of the first people looked at.

    If it were me, I wouldn't be doing any of those things. That's because I'd've deleted the initial e-mail without reading it. An e-mail purporting to be from a bank I've never done business with is either a) an advertisement I'm not interested in, b) a phishing attempt I don't want to even look at let alone respond to, or c) information I don't need and don't want. Regardless of which it is, I've no need and no reason to even look at it, so into the bit bucket it goes. And why not? I'm under no obligation to read random correspondence someone else wants to send me, just like I'm under no obligation to read that wad of advertising flyers that show up in my mailbox every day.

  • by db32 ( 862117 ) on Saturday September 26, 2009 @09:24PM (#29552325) Journal

    Go do some research. There has been a great number of these types of events. No knock warrants, false 911 calls, SWAT raids on the wrong address. There have been tons of innocent people harassed and more than a few killed. This guy was actually lucky it was his dogs. []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 26, 2009 @11:02PM (#29552931)

    It does happen all the time....


  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 27, 2009 @01:29AM (#29553709)

    That's still no reason to take irreversible actions like killing pets. That appears to be SOP in swat busts. They shoot all dogs whether or not they are actually a threat. As long as they find something they can charge you with, nothing happens to them. It may be that an informant made something up about you being a drug dealer, but even if you really aren't, if they get something on you the local press won't cover it. The few cases you here about are the ones that they came up empty and even then they won't even try to compensate you for the loss of your pets or property damage.

  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:3, Informative)

    by rfunches ( 800928 ) <> on Sunday September 27, 2009 @04:17AM (#29554335) Homepage

    The balance sheet will break out assets and liabilities on a specific basis and you can clearly see where the banks got burned - mortgages, mortgage-backed, and asset-backed securities, on both the assets and liabilities -- basically, assets which the banks clearly didn't know how to count. (See Merrill Lynch's 10-K [] as an example.) For ML, there were massive losses in securities financing transactions, mortgage/asset-backed securities, and considerable losses on derivatives in 2008. The summarized balance sheet clearly shows what happened -- high leverage levels means that it only takes a 3% drop to wipe out shareholder equity (for ML, it was barely 3% - $667.5b in assets against $20b in equity) and ML saw a 34.56% decline in assets FY08 ($1t in FY07 to $667.5b in FY08). They got the leverage to 13.18 in Q1 2009 (down to 13.18 on $569.8b assets, $529.6b liabilities, $40.2b equity) which gave them a 7% cushion, but with a 14.6% decline in assets during the quarter. Profits and share issuance can help raise the equity and counter a drop in assets, but you're pretty much screwed trying to make up a 34% decline.

    The ratio for ML reached its peak at the end of 2008, as the subprime mortgage market cratered:

    • 2004 - 20.02
    • 2005 - 19.13
    • 2006 - 20.57
    • 2007 - 30.94
    • 2008 - 32.37
    • Q1 2009 - 13.18

    There's always been a race between big financial firms to beat each other to the very last penny (the concept of "flash" trading, for instance, has a hint of desperation in it) so one by one they decided to out-leverage each other to bring in bigger profits faster. It's a risk management problem -- ML bet their future in FY06 on continued success in prime brokerage and securities financing, as well as commercial and residential mortgage loans and long-term debt, while ignoring a 18% drop in equity due to a net loss in continuing ops, stock repurchases, and dividend payments of $1.40/share.

  • by Dan541 ( 1032000 ) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @06:11AM (#29554703) Homepage

    While I don't run my own mail server I do retain control over my email in that I can change my MX record to any provider I want. Unfortunately most people don't use their own domains. But if they did, even using google apps they would at least have some protection from this sort of abuse by having the option of moving providers.

    What would you do if you lost your email account? How many accounts and online services would you now be shut out of. It is basically identity theft, since the victim loses their online identity for it.

    This Judge should be barred, no question.

  • Re:G-Mail? (Score:3, Informative)

    by sorak ( 246725 ) on Sunday September 27, 2009 @12:23PM (#29557199)

    (I know I'm being redundant, but)
    To put it in plain English:

    1. They started making loans with other people's money.
    2. They got their profit upfront, regardless of whether the loan ever got paid off.
    3. They started carelessly making loans everywhere they possibly could. They started coming up with wacky ARM schemes that encouraged their customers to bite off more than they could chew (and I don't hold the customers blameless), simply to get more loans and bigger loans into people's hands.
    4. The system collapsed.

At work, the authority of a person is inversely proportional to the number of pens that person is carrying.