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Trans Union - Wire Fraud and Data Theft
Posted on Friday, December 21st, 2012 at 4:36pm CST by Cliff M.
Product: Credit Reports
Company: Trans Union
Category: Business, Finances
December 29, 2012
I. LARGEST DATA THEFT AND COMPUTER HACKING
AND INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY THEFT IN HISTORY
In 2000, Cliff Mortensen contacted Bruce MacLeod of Hennigan, Bennett and Dorman (now McKool, Smith, Hennigan) in Los Angeles, CA to represent him in a wire fraud and data theft/hacking lawsuit against Trans Union LLC of Chicago, IL and Acxiom Corporation (ACXM) of Little Rock, AR. Trans Union was represented by Michael O?Neil of DLA Piper of Chicago and Acxiom was represented by Amy Stewart of the Rose law firm of Little Rock, AR. Both data companies had been secretly stealing/hacking billions of dollars worth of data from Cliff Mortensen, Credit Bureau of Carmel and Pebble Beach, Credit Research, Inc. and many other independent Trans Union franchisees across the country for at least ten years. Trans Union and Acxiom called it ?data mining?; Cliff Mortensen?s lawyers called it ?theft?. It is the largest data theft/hacking and wire fraud crime in United States? history. Trans Union during this period was controlled by attorneys Penny Pritzker and Robert Pritzker (d.) of Chicago, IL. Trans Union?s address is 555 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL 60661. The case number was 00 C 3885 Northern District of Illinois, Judge John Moran (d.). This was a peremptory filing by Trans Union for venue choice and position. Mortensen was a defendant and a counter plaintiff in this SLAPP suit.
The data hacking/hijacking occurred on IBM super computers at Trans Union facilities in
Chicago, IL and Fullerton, CA and Acxiom facilities in Westlake, CA and Little Rock, AR during routine daily database maintenance and ?batch processing? in terabyte quantities at nanosecond speeds. Acxiom managed data files on the Trans Union Cronus Database at these and other Trans Union locations. Acxiom was granted unlimited free access to hundreds of millions of data files many of which were not the property of Trans Union or Acxiom. These files were the information root of millions of target marketing lists which were sold to banks and financial institutions. Acxiom paid Trans Union for this stolen data with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of stock warrants (ACXM). Trans Union did not redistribute this revenue with the lawful owners of this data, the independent Trans Union affiliated credit bureau owners across the United States. It appears that Trans Union?s management believed that if the data theft and wire fraud were conducted on IBM super computers at speeds faster than the eye could see, it wasn?t really provable ?theft?. Data theft leaves no evidentiary ?footprint? no matter how often the data is copied or illegally accessed (stolen) and Trans Union knew it. It was the ?perfect burglary?. Alice Conlon of Trans Union was the credit bureau liaison for the independent credit bureaus and Trans Union during this period. She is still employed at Trans Union. She threatened Cliff Mortensen with the statement ?If you don?t do what Trans Union wants by amending your contract, they can do plenty to you?. They did.
This data theft began to occur after Allen J. Flitcraft resigned as president of Trans Union.
II. RECIPIENTS OF STOLEN DATA IDENTIFIED
Trans Union has been a major stockholder in Acxiom and they had interlocking directorates. Trans Union was the primary source for Acxiom?s database.
The major national banks and large data users (including the United States government) which unknowingly purchased the hacked/stolen data from Trans Union and Acxiom Corporation were Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, Wells-Fargo, HSBC, Capital One, Bank One, American Express, U. S. Bank, Discover Card and most banks which issued credit cards including First National Bank of Omaha (FNBO). FNBO received a $23,000,000.00 award against Trans Union for data theft during breach of contract in 1997 case number 8:95CV-57 United States District Court District of Nebraska-Allen Rugg, Esq. of Powell Goldstein for the plaintiff. Trans Union has a bountiful history of data theft. The data theft was discovered during a sting operation. Trans Union and Acxiom Corporation shared the ill gotten proceeds without paying the rightful owners of the data, the hundred or so local Trans Union franchisees across the United States including the bureau owned by Cliff Mortensen. This wire fraud, conversion and data theft continued for at least ten years before Trans Union admitted to it during settlement of one of the many federal cases.
Eric Holder, (appointed by Barack Obama), of the Department of Justice, Andrew Cuomo (Attorney General of New York), Kamala Harris (Attorney General of California) and the F.B.I. have failed to prosecute these crimes by these Pritzker owned entities.
Penny Pritzker is part of the Pritzker family of Chicago (Hyatt Hotels, Trans Union, Trans Union Healthcare and the Marmon Group). She was the finance chair for President Obama in 2008 and was considered for but not offered the cabinet position of Commerce Secretary in 2009 due to her colorful past. In 2002 Penny Pritzker was a defendant in a RICO lawsuit filed against her in the Superior Bank (Chicago) collapse. Mortensen asked Bruce MacLeod to file a RICO action against the Pritzkers for wire fraud, extortion and anti-trust. He refused on several occasions.
III. CONFLICTED WORKING RELATIONSHIPS
OF LAW FIRMS
Mr. MacLeod was referred to Cliff Mortensen by his attorney Ralph Wegis, a pioneer in SLAPP lawsuits, of Bakersfield, CA. Bruce MacLeod evaluated the case for twelve months before he decided to accept it. This was a major delay that benefitted Trans Union and Acxiom. Mr. MacLeod had a prior working relationship with opposing counsel, DLA Piper of Chicago. Both firms worked together successfully on the 1994 bankruptcy of Orange County, CA and later (without Mortensen?s knowledge) worked together representing John Hancock Life Insurance Company on the international Parmalat (Italy) bankruptcy case. Both firms have represented the Catholic Church in the United States. Michael Hennigan and Bruce MacLeod had mutual friends at DLA Piper. Mortensen was not informed of this ongoing conflicted dual working relationship until August 15, 2012. Mortensen would have never permitted it and would have terminated Bruce MacLeod and Michael Hennigan had he known.
IV. ABUSE OF PROCESS
Initially, Michael O?Neil of DLA Piper sued Cliff Mortensen in a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) lawsuit to quell his impending lawsuit for data theft, fraud and breach of contract. This was an attempt by DLA Piper to bankrupt Cliff Mortensen. The $1,000,000.00 cost to defend this suit was paid for by Cliff Mortensen?s insurance carrier, State Farm. Cliff Mortensen was represented by Steve Baron of Mandell Menkes of Chicago. This case settled for $17,000.00. There was no SLAPP Back or malicious prosecution lawsuit filed on Mortensen?s behalf. Steve Baron, of Mandell Menkes, did not attend the settlement conference. This was abuse of the court process.
V. CASE VALUATION
On the first discovery trip to Chicago, the home of Trans Union, Bruce MacLeod mentioned that if Cliff Mortensen?s case were only worth $4,000,000.00 his firm would not be interested in representing Cliff Mortensen. He then excused himself for a lunch meeting with his old pals at DLA. Bruce MacLeod later indicated the case was worth in excess of $100,000,000.00 per appraisal by Monica Ip of HemmingMorse and contract breach.
VI. UNDERSEAL AND CASE SECRECY
Bruce MacLeod and Ralph Wegis allowed the case to be filed ?under seal? with a protective order (against the protestations of Cliff Mortensen). Mortensen told Bruce Mac Leod on several occasions that he did not approve of this secrecy strategy, yet Bruce Mac Leod insisted on secrecy. This order only protected Trans Union, Acxiom and the Pritzker family from public exposure of their data theft, wire fraud and anti-trust crimes. Wall Street investors would have benefitted from public exposure of these crimes. Bruce MacLeod was asked on at least fifteen occasions to remove the case from protective order, to unseal the filings and to amend the complaint to include an anti-trust pleading and RICO against Trans Union. He always refused and would become very irritated whenever the subject was broached. This secrecy and failure to amend accommodated his friends? wishes at DLA while ingratiating himself with them for amicable working relationships and ignoring the demands and best interests of his client, Cliff Mortensen. Secrecy weakened the case and settlement position for seven years. It fortified Trans Union?s and Acxiom?s position by delays. If Cliff Mortensen?s theories of data theft were so misguided, as Michael O?Neil stated, why was secrecy paramount in Trans Union?s and Acxiom?s strategy?
Time is the enemy of justice.
VII. SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Public exposure of their crimes terrified the management of Trans Union and Acxiom, a publicly traded company (NASDAQ). The secrecy and delays benefitted Trans Union and Acxiom by keeping the other franchised credit bureaus, investors and the Securities and Exchange Commission uninformed about their data theft, wire fraud crimes and anti-trust actions which would have resulted in more lawsuits, sanctions and significant financial loss for Trans Union and Acxiom with subsequent erosion of investors? value in securities. Bruce MacLeod was accommodating Trans Union and Acxiom to Mortensen?s peril. Cliff Mortensen?s lawyers by their secret filings aided Trans Union and Acxiom Corporation in the theft ?cover up? and fraud. Even the lead Judge Moran was tired of the secrecy. If Mortensen?s assertions were invalid as claimed by Michael O?Neil of DLA Piper and Trans Union why was secrecy necessary?
VIII. SCOPE OF THE DATA THEFT AND BRUCE MACLEOD?S FAILURE TO FILE WIRE FRAUD CAUSE OF ACTION
After an error filled initial filing, Bruce MacLeod finally did some great work analyzing and stating Mortensen?s claims of wire fraud, breach of contract and data theft in a first amended complaint. He found that Trans Union and Acxiom had stolen billions of dollars worth of data from individual Trans Union credit bureau franchisees across the United States and over $100,000,000.00 from Cliff Mortensen. Mr. MacLeod called it ?fraud?. He never claimed ?wire fraud? which is a felony. Again, Mr. MacLeod was protecting his friends? clients. Mr. Roger Longtin of DLA Piper told one of the court reporters that Bruce MacLeod had ?cracked the case? but he (Longtin) would deny it if queried.
MacLeod demanded to see the personal computer hard drives of Mortensen, his son and their businesses plus all of Mortensen?s personal tax and corporate tax filings. Mortensen asked Bruce MacLeod for reciprocity from the Pritzkers , Trans Union and Acxiom. Bruce MacLeod refused his request. Bruce MacLeod allowed Trans Union and Acxiom to take Mortensen?s personal videotaped deposition on ten different occasions, yet he never deposed Robert Pritzker (d.) or Penny Pritzker, the ?de facto? owners of Trans Union. Bruce MacLeod destroyed those videos and of his court records against Cliff Mortensen?s wishes.
IX. ANTI-TRUST ISSUES
In an anti-trust move, Experian denied database access to Cliff Mortensen in 2000.Trans Union, in a similar anti-trust move, denied Cliff Mortensen access to his own database in July of 2001. He was forced to terminate twenty employees. This was an extortionate attempt to force Cliff Mortensen to drop his lawsuit against Trans Union and Acxiom. Trans Union and Experian aggressively pursued Cliff Mortensen?s customers in a blatant anti-trust, unfair competition move. Cliff Mortensen asked Bruce MacLeod to enjoin Trans Union from denying Cliff Mortensen access to his own database. Bruce MacLeod refused as it would be ?too much legal work?. There was a conspiracy between Trans Union and Experian to destroy Mortensen?s businesses. They succeeded.
During this access denial period David Emery, Chief Financial Officer of Trans Union at that time, asked Cliff Mortensen ?Are you ready to talk about signing the contract amendment now?? David Emery was clearly committing extortion. Signing the amendment would have allowed Trans Union and Acxiom Corporation to continue their data theft. Mortensen refused any amendments.
Trans Union and Acxiom are organizations which have used extortion, theft, wire fraud, computer hacking and perjury to achieve their profit goals and revenue streams by stealing billions of credit records from individual credit bureaus. This clearly qualified as a RICO action. This is the largest data theft and wire fraud in history.
Mr. Hennigan belittled the value of the case on many occasions. He stated the case was ?only worth $400,000.00?. When queried, Bruce MacLeod did not have an explanation why one of the Pritzker companies, Conwood Smokeless Tobacco, prevailed in a similar unfair competition and anti-trust lawsuit against United States Tobacco for 3 billion dollars including punitive damages (Upheld at U.S. Supreme Court and satisfied). United States Tobacco was forced to issue stock to fund this settlement. Conwood Tobacco v. U.S. Tobacco was an anti-trust case as was Mortensen?s but Bruce MacLeod and Michael Hennigan refused on several occasions to include an anti-trust or RICO pleading in his case. Again, their lack of action protected Trans Union and Acxiom. Cliff Mortensen was so disappointed in his legal representation at this point that he contacted the law firm of Boise, Schiller and Flexner, LLP for representation. The firm refused his case for ?a variety of reasons?.
In 2006, John Blenke, chief counsel at Trans Union offered Mortensen $7,000,000.00 to settle with secrecy. Mortensen rejected that offer.
Since Mortensen?s case was under seal, Trans Union and Acxiom had no motivation to ?true up? with Cliff Mortensen and settle for their data theft and wire fraud. They did not admit to their theft and wire fraud until seven years later at settlement. Then they wanted a secret settlement as their admission of wire fraud crimes would ?be embarrassing to Penny Pritzker and the Trans Union organization ?. Bruce MacLeod and Michael Hennigan were always willing to oblige DLA Piper?s secrecy wishes.
The case was progressing very slowly through the courts. Mortensen had large financial obligations and he informed Bruce MacLeod of his dire financial condition for years, yet Bruce MacLeod still kept the case progression slow and under seal. He suggested that Mortensen borrow $200,000.00 from Ralph Wegis to help his financial position. That money only lasted six months. Bruce MacLeod suggested that Cliff Mortensen allow all of his real estate investments to go into foreclosure. He was insolvent by 2007 and forced into a weak settlement position. On settlement day, Mortensen was in debt approximately $5,000,000.00 and had liquidated about $3,000,000.00 of his personal assets. Bruce MacLeod had copies of Cliff Mortensen?s tax returns. MacLeod has extensive accounting expertise and he understood Cliff Mortensen?s untenable financial and emotional position. Bruce MacLeod?s actions had ?broken? Mortensen emotionally and financially. He set him up for minimal settlement. Five years before settlement, MacLeod had Mortensen petition the Court to explain his insolvency.
XI. DUAL REPRESENTATION
Incredibly, prior to settlement, Bruce MacLeod suggested that he (Bruce MacLeod) ?become employed by opposing counsel, DLA Piper, to facilitate settlement?. His stated theory was that it would entice Trans Union to settle as he would then be barred from accepting any new cases against Trans Union or Acxiom. He told Cliff Mortensen he did not want to go against Trans Union or Acxiom again. He stated that it would be illegal for him to decline other similar cases unless he was employed by opposing counsel.
Cliff Mortensen was flabbergasted! He believed Bruce MacLeod was either breaking the law or at least violating California State Bar ethics. He could not believe what Bruce MacLeod was saying. Cliff Mortensen told him ?absolutely not?! Mortensen felt this would be legal malpractice and certainly not in his best interest. He no longer had any trust in Bruce MacLeod, Michael Hennigan or their law firm. He began to believe that the fraternal relationship with DLA Piper was even cozier than suspected. On August 15, 2012, Mortensen discovered that both firms had been working together for the John Hancock Insurance Company on the Parmalat (Italy) bankruptcy case and Catholic Church litigation for years. Had Mortensen known this, he would have terminated Hennigan, Bennett and Dorman post haste.
XII. CASE BELITTLEMENT AND LACK OF TRIAL PREPARATION
Mortensen was forced into a weak settlement position particularly when Bruce said ?Don?t start believing your own bullshit?! Still, there were no ?trial ready? motions or ?at issue memoranda? filed on Mortensen?s behalf. MacLeod never demanded a ?true up? of what was owed to Mortensen. The delays accommodating Trans Union and Acxiom Corporation continued. The case was not positioned for serious settlement negotiations. Cliff Mortensen was financially broke and emotionally broken and unable to continue with the stalled litigation.
Cliff Mortensen?s hacked/stolen data was valued in excess of $100,000,000.00 (per contract breach) by forensic accountant and appraiser Monica Ip of HemmingMorse, San Francisco, CA. There were at least one hundred other Trans Union franchised bureaus in similar situations.
At the suggestion of Michael Hennigan, mediation took place at the law offices of Antonio Piazza of Gregorio, Haldeman and Piazza in San Francisco. This was the first time Mortensen had ever met Michael Hennigan. During mediation Cliff Mortensen stated to his lawyers that he wanted Trans Union to offer a settlement figure before he did. They all said ?no? that Cliff Mortensen ?would have to come up with a figure first?. Mortensen felt this would be bidding against himself and not good strategy. His lawyers gave no guidance in developing a settlement strategy or case value during or prior to mediation. Mr. Wegis said Mortensen had ?fought the good fight? but it was ?time to settle?. Mortensen?s lawyers were as silent during the Anthony Piazza meeting. Cliff Mortensen felt he had been set up and railroaded into settlement. Bruce MacLeod, Michael Hennigan, and Ralph Wegis offered no counsel or guidance during the mediation. Steve Baron of Mandell Menkes was absent as was Amy Stewart of the Rose Law Firm representing Acxiom Corporation.
Eventually, Cliff Mortensen proposed a settlement figure of $15,000,000.00. Anthony Piazza said ?No? he would not present the offer to Trans Union. This violated negotiation protocol. Anthony Piazza said the figure was ?too high? but he did not say on what he based his conclusion. He just pulled a number out of the air with no consideration to the professional appraisal of Monica Ip at HemmingMorse. Attorney Anthony Piazza was supposed to be a neutral mediator. His bias toward Trans Union/Acxiom and lack of neutrality cost Mortensen a fortune. He then beat Cliff Mortensen down to $10,000,000.00. Cliff Mortensen?s lawyers were silent and did not advocate his position at all. The smirk on Michael O?Neil?s face revealed the incongruity of the settlement. Bruce MacLeod did not inform Cliff Mortensen of the massive similar financial crimes litigation in which Trans Union was involved.
The case settled on October 31, 2007 for $11,000,000.00. The settlement called for forgiveness of all transgressions ?known or unknown? and global settlement with a non-disclosure clause. Mortensen received $6,000,000.00 and his lawyers received $5,000,000.00. From Mortensen?s proceeds he repaid Mr. Wegis the $200,000.00 loan from his retirement fund plus interest. He also paid Wood & Porter Attorneys (referred by Bruce MacLeod) $125,000.00 for tax advice since Michael Hennigan said during the mediation that his firm did not dispense tax advice. Bruce MacLeod cautioned Cliff Mortensen to be very conservative with any settlement money as it may be needed it to pay federal taxes. Bruce MacLeod and Michael Hennigan knew it was a ?net negative? settlement.
So much for Super Lawyers!
Nowhere has this settlement of data theft been publicly acknowledged in required 8-K, 10-K and S-1 filings for Trans Union and Acxiom or elsewhere. This violated Security and Exchange Rules and kept the investors uninformed of this data theft litigation. John Blenke, chief counsel for Trans Union, initially offered Cliff Mortensen $7,000,000.00 in 2006 to settle secretly. This is not public information. His signature is on the 8-K, 10-K and S-1 filings for Trans Union. Acxiom Corporation had similar filing requirements.
Trans Union and its subsidiary, Trans Union Healthcare, have used their data processing and consumer credit expertise and records to benefit from the implementation and management of Obamacare, the affordable health care initiative put forth by Barack Obama. You will recall that Penny Pritzker (Trans Union and Trans Union Healthcare) was Obama?s finance chair in 2008. ?Mission accomplished?, Barack! Getting the healthcare initiative was his number one priority.
The day Cliff Mortensen settled for $6,000,000.00 net, he was bankrupt by three million dollars and Bruce MacLeod knew it. He, Ralph Wegis and Michael Hennigan settled Cliff Mortensen into bankruptcy. Mortensen had earlier petitioned the Court on Mortensen?s insolvency yet he denied knowledge of Mortensen?s finances when he was queried recently by Mr. Morgenstern of the California State Bar. This was not Mortensen?s plan for successful prosecution of the case. Cliff Mortensen subsequently defaulted on seventeen real estate loans totaling millions of dollars. He felt he was forced to settle as his lawyers had no plans to take his case to trial and the opposition knew it. Cliff Mortensen was not ?made whole? and the subject was never mentioned by Bruce MacLeod, Ralph Wegis , Michael Hennigan, Antonio Piazza or Michael O?Neil.
Two weeks after the mediation and prior to final settlement Cliff Mortensen asked Bruce MacLeod if the mediation was binding. Mortensen wanted to cancel it. Bruce MacLeod stated that the mediation was indeed binding and could not be cancelled. This was not true. Cliff Mortensen relied on Bruce MacLeod?s false statement.
XV. DESTRUCTION OF RECORDS
There was a confidentiality agreement on the settlement with a $500,000.00 penalty clause if Cliff Mortensen breached it. DLA Piper demanded that Cliff Mortensen destroy all personal court records, documents and digital records of the legal proceedings. Cliff Mortensen did not. Bruce MacLeod maintained all of his legal records and case log history on his computer. He has that digital record today. Two years after settlement Ralph Wegis returned to Cliff Mortensen all legal documents in his possession. Bruce MacLeod refused to do the same when requested. He destroyed them against Cliff Mortensen?s wishes.
Mr. Wegis had pressing financial concerns as he owed the California Franchise Tax Board over $250,000.00. FTB file number 067966 dated March 17, 2010.
XVI. PUBLICATION AND
FREEDOM OF SPEECH
In April of 2011, Cliff Mortensen posted the details of the case on Yahoo! Finance. Within 72 hours he received a disturbing telephone call from an irate Bruce MacLeod threatening Cliff Mortensen with legal repercussions from DLA Piper and demanded that he ?take down? the offensive posting immediately. Mortensen informed him that he would not. Oddly, Bruce MacLeod stated that he ?did not and could not represent Mortensen any longer? and he had attorney Andrew Swartz of Spiering, Swartz and Kennedy of Monterey call him. Mr. Swartz stated that Bruce MacLeod requested that he call as Mortensen was in need of representation. Mr. Swartz was clueless about the call. Mortensen thanked him for his concern and told him he had no legal issues presently.
The next day Mortensen received another disturbing call from equally irate opposing counsel, Michael O?Neil of DLA Piper. He threatened to sue Mortensen for $500,000.00 and to enjoin him from breaching the confidentiality agreement. He demanded that Mortensen take down the Yahoo! Finance posting. Mortensen informed Mr. O?Neil that he had every legal right to discuss any crimes committed against him at anytime and anywhere he chose. O?Neil queried ?Why now?? He followed up his request in email format at Mortensen?s request. Trans Union was in the process of an Initial Public Offering and this theft and fraud case settlement could be an issue of concern at the Securities and Exchange Commission. It still is.
On July 5, 2011, Ernst and Young filed a Consent form S-1 for Trans Union?s Initial Public Offering. John Blenke?s name was listed on that filing as EVP and Corporate Counsel for Trans Union. The IPO was withdrawn February 17, 2012.
XVII. CHANGE OF OWNERSHIP
In 2010, Trans Union was sold to a partnership of Madison Dearborn Partners, LLC, and in 2012 sold again to Goldman Sachs? GS Capital Partners and Advent International in early 2012.
Bobby Mehta, Trans Union?s president has stepped down as well as Oscar Marquis, David Emery, Harry Gambill and Bill Rogers. Charles Morgan, former CEO of Acxiom Corporation, has also been replaced as well as much of upper management.
Cliff Mortensen has never heard from DLA Piper, Michael O?Neil or Bruce MacLeod again.
Messrs. MacLeod and Hennigan placed their own professional relationships with DLA Piper above Mortensen?s interests. They deliberately stalled and cloaked the case in secrecy to Mortensen?s detriment and to Trans Union?s and Acxiom?s benefit while they were working at the same time on the huge international Parmalat bankruptcy and Roman Catholic Church cases with DLA Piper.
Their actions caused Mortensen and his family great financial and emotional harm.
The damage to Mortensen?s credit is ongoing, yet Trans Union?s credit rating is unblemished after defrauding over one hundred Trans Union credit bureau franchisees out of billions of dollars. Their actions depleted Mortensen?s substantial net worth. Who said ?crime doesn?t pay?? Certainly not Penny Pritzker or Goldman Sachs!
California lawyers are Officers of the Court and as such must be held to the highest legal bar. They did not meet standards of good practice.
Messrs. MacLeod and Hennigan can be reached presently at The Law Firm of McKool Smith and Hennigan, 865 Figueroa St., Los Angeles, CA 90017, 213.694.1200. They are partners there. Mr. Hennigan can also be reached also at Quail H Farms, 5301 Robin Avenue, Livingston, CA 95334, (209).394.8001
933 W. Alisal St.
Salinas, CA 93901