EFI victims’ bank account numbers released

November 13, 2009

By KAREN VELIE

In the age of rampant identity theft, San Luis Obispo County officials, in a recent mailing to Estate Financial Inc. (EFI) victims, deliberately placed some investor bank account numbers on the outside of envelopes they mailed to the victims through their financial institutions.

“My bank called me and said that they had received a letter from the probation department,” investor Ulf Erenius said. “They were very astonished and wanted me to come pick it up. This I did and I found the most amazing thing, the county government center had put my name, bank account, and name of the bank in the address label for anyone to read.”

The mailing included a letter explaining that victims had a right to appear in person or through an attorney at the Dec. 7 sentencing hearing of EFI principals Karen Guth and Joshua Yaguda and a request for victims to return to the county a form that listed how much they had lost to the notorious investment firm.

More than 3,000 investors, primarily seniors, entrusted their nest eggs with EFI. In July 2008, EFI’s portfolio contained more than $317 million in monies owed to investors, though less than $25,000 remained unencumbered.

“We know that bank account information was listed on a number of the mailings,” said San Luis Obispo Deputy Dist. Atty. Steve von Dohlen who has worked on the case for more than a year. “Regarding knowing who all 3,000 accounts belong to, we haven’t done that yet. We are working on that now.”

While the district attorneys office has not yet been able to determine exactly who the victims are, numerous EFI investors said they have received mailings from the bankruptcy trustees and questioned why the county was not using the same list as the federal government.

In addition to mailing a letter to Erenius’ bank, the county sent a duplicate letter to his home address.

“Because we did not want to omit anyone, we would rather possibly send a person two notices than accidentally leave them out,” von Dohlen said in an e-mail in which he shrugged off concerns about privacy issues. “While I can appreciate and understand your concern regarding the use of your account number on such correspondence, please know that based on the records we have, this was the best way for us to make contact with the responsible party associated with that account from EFI’s original records.”

District attorney officials provided the mailing database to the probation department a few weeks ago with instructions that it produce a list of those who don’t return the requested information. Probation was given approximately a month to finalize the report.

In the rush to contact the victims, probation department officials mailed out letters without discovering that the district attorney provided investor list including personal information as part of the address.

In contrast to the district attorney officials’ view that it was acceptable to post account numbers in address windows, probation officials are opposed to displaying personal information on the outside of envelopes and said they plan to correct the list before sending out any future mailings.

“I told the person that does the mailing that we need to go through the list and remove bank account numbers,” said Probation Department Administrative Services Division Manager Ed Liedsher. “We are going to go through and try to locate the people that have moved and did not leave forwarding address. It is a monumental task.”

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2 Comments

  1. CTJ says:

    Why is it that everyone seems to give Von Dohlen a pass and give him an unsaid sense of smarts? I don’t think he could light up a bulb with his finger in a socket. He says what he wants even if he doesn’t understand it or know the truth. Seems like someone is bucking for a promotion.

    (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
  2. Karen Velie says:

    By: cheseburger on 11/17/09 [Delete]
    All you poster’s are really good but, hotdog just made the cheseburger understand what,rolling on the floor laughing truly means,hotdogs and cheseburgers think the same! Bottom line did the probation department drop the ball and/or will they fess up to it?

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 11/16/09 [Delete]
    Here is the problem with your arguement (about liquer stores etc) They also could do the same with your credit card (and do sometimes at restaurants) so would you post your credit card number on the outside of your mail???

    By: Rewind on 11/16/09 [Delete]
    BJuice is right. What is the big deal?

    By: Booty_Juice on 11/16/09 [Delete]
    Dear booger eaters,
    Your precious name, banking institution, and bank account number is “released” EVERY TIME YOU WRITE A F*CKING CHECK. For the average poster here that means every north county inbred mong working at every porn shop, liquor store, lotto stop, and burger joint already has your sh*t. For the average pikey oop nort it means squat since they only roll on benefits and cash.

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 11/16/09 [Delete]
    Slocentral.

    Nice point. I would add that isn’t it the officials that are always telling us to watch your mail for fraud? To lock it up if possible so people can’t steal it? And then this group of boneheads puts the info. on the outside.

    Yea hard to believe that a few here see this as a non starter. If it is no big deal to these few then can we post your account numbers? Bet you would say no and bet I know why. Same as the people that feel victimized by their on local Gov. AGAIN.

    By: slocentral on 11/16/09 [Delete]
    Several posters have supposed that printing the bank account numbers on the envelopes was a “mistake” but it sounds like it was intentional on the part of the DA, not a mistake.

    In addition to the word “deliberate” in the lead in paragraph, there are also these quotes from the DA:


    “We know that bank account information was listed on a number of the mailings,” said San Luis Obispo Deputy Dist. Atty. Steve von Dohlen […] he shrugged off concerns about privacy issues. “While I can appreciate and understand your concern regarding the use of your account number on such correspondence, please know that based on the records we have, this was the best way for us to make contact with the responsible party associated with that account from EFI’s original records.”

    This is very concerning because of all people, the DA’s office should be aware of privacy concerns and the possibility for identity theft and fraud through the release of private information. It sounds like they were just lazy and rather than actually contacting the banks and getting the customer’s contact information, they would just take the easy way out by listing the account info on the envelope so it could be routed.

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 11/15/09 [Delete]
    Make a mistake on something personnel, I agree no big deal. Make a BIG mistake doing a job you are WELL paid for, BIG DEAL.

    To compare personnel and work? No comparison.

    By: hotdog on 11/15/09 [Delete]
    To me a fundamental element of any professional is “check your work”. We use spell check, and hopefully have a human review that. Pilots who are very familiar with pre flight procedures still use check lists to make sure all is right before taking off. Anyone with a brain and real concern checks their work. I made a small typing mistake a few posts back, but I left it ’cause it wasn’t a big deal on an informal blogsite and I didn’t catch it in time for a timely repair.

    The issue at hand is a big deal, shows a lack of professional performance and the quoted lame excuse from the DA is even worse. No one seems to ever cop to their failings, allowing all concerned to ‘move forward’. Denying, lying, stonewalling, offering lame excuses or simply ignoring the concerned questioner are all the rage ever since Nixon perfected these tactics in a failed attempt to avoid responsibility for the Watergate debacle.

    I think we will ‘move on’ when those who screwed up acknowledge that, apologize, promise to do better and then prove it by doing better.

    By: Cindy on 11/15/09 [Delete]
    OtisCampbell – Excel is hardly an appropriate program to create mailing labels. I expect more competence from our paid public employees.

    By: OtisCampbell on 11/15/09 [Delete]
    Anyone use Excel to store lots of data? Anyone here generated mailing labels from Excel? Ever forget to ‘not’ include a heading name and get an extra category included on your labels?

    Same thing happened on mailings to me from a financial institution.

    Mistakes happen. Move-on

    By: hotdog on 11/15/09 [Delete]
    Right on Nancy and Cheseburger.

    By: cheseburger on 11/14/09 [Delete]
    The Probation department have their own group of good ole boys too, jobs security or just milking it, they created tons more work, by creating the mistake in the first place, seam’s par for the course of victimized, victims.
    And now I am a haterizing, hateful, hater, hating the victimizing, victimizers.And this,
    “I told the person that does the mailing that we need to go through the list and remove bank account numbers,” just doesn’t cut the mustard for the Chese! He needs a press release writer!

    By: Nancy on 11/14/09 [Delete]
    This mailing was poorly managed. It is the epitome of unprofessional. Our government employees are all well paid and receive far greater pay than the average medium salary and benefits in the private sector. That means we should have the best of the best working in local government. This faux pas would have been grounds for termination in the private sector. I’m tired of the excuses, incompetence and “what are yah gonna do about it” attitudes.

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 11/14/09 [Delete]
    Beth.

    Posting of ones bank info. is quite personnel. By our own D.A.? That is riduculous. I suggest you get over yourself or just skip my posts.

    By: beth on 11/14/09 [Delete]
    Was YOUR home address, phone number,and cell phone number listed on the envelope? Get over yourself.

    By: BeenThereDoneThat on 11/14/09 [Delete]
    Does anybody know Von Dohlen’s home address, phone, cell phone etc.? I say we post ALL that information here and in public elsewhere and see if he has the same lackadaisical attitude.

    By: Paso_Guy on 11/14/09 [Delete]
    Yeah, I saw that………why worry?
    Who is going to take the time to examine an envelope enroute, figure out that it is an account # and then act in a felonious manner?

    I do believe that they are larger concerns…

    Like why not look into how Rod Jarmin, RPL, raided the construction accounts to pay their lousy service fees on non-performing loans?

    By: Cindy on 11/14/09 [Delete]
    That is nothing but sloppy work. I’m surprised they haven’t merged data bases in an effort to construct one list of all the investors. We are only talking about 3000 names here. It should be a piece of cake.

    By: hotdog on 11/14/09 [Delete]
    Keystone Kops, the deaf leading the blind. Gawd, what idiots are running this thing? This incompetence is astounding, but in light of their prior record in dealin with the victims I guess it all makes sense; just keep piling up the abuses on them.

    By: zaphod on 11/13/09 [Delete]
    I think most any secretary could accomplish the monumental task in under an hour using windows 95.

    By: cheseburger on 11/13/09 [Delete]
    “I told the person that does the mailing that we need to go through the list and remove bank account numbers,” said Probation Department Administrative Services Division Manager Ed Liedsher. “We are going to go through and try to locate the people that have moved and did not leave forwarding address. It is a monumental task.” Sounds like passing the blame to me, and monumental task my ass!

    By: CitizenCane on 11/13/09 [Delete]
    Do we need some new blood in the DA’s Office or what?

    This is ineptitude at its finest!

    By: rukidding on 11/13/09 [Delete]
    Big Brother at their best. Who loves you baby?

    (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down

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