LeadCritic Exclusive:

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It is expected to be announced today that a former LendingTree employee was caught in a elaborate lead selling scheme. This has not yet been verified by LendingTree, but was brought to my attention by a number strong and reliable sources. An ex-lendingtree employee, possibly partnered with a current LendingTree employee, accessed LendingTree’s database of live consumer data and sold the data to a mortgage company/s.

Apparently, because social security numbers were included in the stolen data the FBI has been very closely involved. This is a major breach of security for the trusted lead generator.

How many times did this ex-employee sell the data? How many current employees were involved on the inside? How many mortgage companies knowingly or unknowingly bought this data? These are all unknown questions but hopefully be answered today.

A press release is schedule to go out today. I will keep you posted.

Update:

This is an excerpt from an email sent out to all Lendingtree buyers:

Lenders:

Today we notified some of our customers that their previous LendingTree loan request forms may have been seen by a handful of lenders without our authorization. These lenders then used the forms to market their own mortgage loans to our customers. While we don’t believe that the forms were used for any other purpose, we wanted to let our customers know what happened and what we did to correct this situation, as well as what they can do to monitor their credit records.

We believe that this situation has no impact on you, yet we wanted you to be aware, and to see the materials we have sent to our customers. The materials are available on the LendingTree web site located here ….

Excerpts from the letter to the consumers:

Dear LendingTree Customer:

We want you to know that some loan request forms our customers sent to LendingTree may have been seen by lenders without our consent. These lenders then used the forms to market their own mortgage loans to our customers. While we don’t believe that the forms were used for any other purpose, we want you to know what happened and what we did to correct this situation, as well as what you can do to monitor your credit records.

What Happened and What We Did

Recently, LendingTree learned that several former employees may have helped a handful of mortgage lenders gain access to LendingTree’s customer information by sharing confidential passwords with the lenders. When we learned of this situation, we quickly contacted the authorities, and LendingTree is helping with their investigation. We promptly made several system security changes. We also brought lawsuits against those involved.

Based on our investigation, we understand that these mortgage lenders used the passwords to access LendingTree’s customer loan request forms, normally available only to LendingTree-approved lenders, to market loans to those customers. The loan request forms contained data such as name, address, email address, telephone number, Social Security number, income and employment information. We believe these lenders accessed LendingTree’s loan request forms between October 2006 and early 2008.

Wow, for two years this has been going on!!

Who was involved?:

What mortgage lenders were involved in accessing LendingTree’s customer information?

We brought a lawsuit against Newport Lending Group, Irvine, California; Home Loan Consultants, Inc., Newport Beach, California; and Sage Credit Company, Irvine, California, in connection with this incident.

Update 4/24/08:

An article by the LA Times stated the following:

The suit claims that former LendingTree Vice President Jarrod Beddingfield and former Senior Vice President David Anderson recorded the passwords of employees and outside lenders that were authorized to access LendingTree customers’ data.

LendingTree said it believed that Newport Lending or Southern California Marketing paid Beddingfield and Anderson for the passwords, then sold them, or the consumer information obtained with them, to the three other companies.

Beddingfield and Anderson could not be reached for comment.

I guess LendingTree doesn’t pay well or these two scum bags are really greedy. This is not going to be the only lawsuit these two guys see. I can see a number of other lawsuits from the consumers and the lead buyers that will trickle down to these two clowns.

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