Matrix bank computers taken in daytime heist

August 4, 2006

The Denver Business Journal

Matrix Bancorp Inc. disclosed late Friday that it was investigating the theft of two personal computers from the bank's downtown branch on Friday, July 28, one of which contained personal account information on an undisclosed number of customers.

The bank said in a news release that thieves apparently entered offices in the company's headquarters tower at 17th and California streets in Denver between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m., and removed the laptop computers while staffers were away from their desks. One computer contains what the bank called "certain proprietary information regarding Matrix Capital Bank and some of its customers ... "

The data, the bank said, is fully encrypted and password-protected, and there's no evidence that any confidential information has been compromised or used illicitly.

Nevertheless, the bank is offering customers fraud-detection help from Equifax, a major credit bureau reporting company. "We will provide each affected customer with a letter describing the steps we have taken on their behalf and the means by which they may register for fraud protection with Equifax. More specifically, we are providing, at our expense for a period of one year, the Equifax Credit Watch Gold with 3-in-1 Monitoring -- Credit Watch fraud protection services to each affected customer," Chief Operating Officer Michael McCloskey said.

No customer of any of Matrix Capital Bank's affiliates is believed affected by the theft, the bank said.

President and CEO Scot Wetzel said in the statement, "We sincerely apologize to our customers for any potential compromise of their personal data, and we want them to know that we are taking every step possible to protect our customers from any further information compromise. Moreover, we are offering a $50,000 reward for information that leads to the recovery of the two laptop computers with proof that the information on the computers has not been compromised. Anyone who can provide such information should call Theodore J. Abariotes at 720-932-4216."

Matrix said it will establish a link on its Web site,, on Monday, Aug. 7, to permit affected customers access to information concerning the event. A toll-free number, 877-250-7742, also is available for customers to call during normal business hours to ascertain the status of the case.

According to Wetzel, the devices carried a wireless card that broadcasts the computer's identity, making discovery by radio signal detection possible within a limited range. Bank representatives conducted an extensive but unsuccessful search of the surrounding area, employing radio detection devices soon after the theft was discovered.

That night and through the weekend, officials determined that one of the computers contained client data that could compromise client account safety if the strong-password and encryption technology were compromised. McCloskey, contacted by phone late Friday, said police were notified Saturday morning July 29 when it was determined that one stolen computer contained personal account information.

"Denver police told us that there have been a rash of thefts in the core downtown area," McCloskey said. "We are advised by police that these computers are probably being sold for drugs and that the likelihood someone could get through the encryption and password protection is small."

Since the morning of July 29, Matrix Capital Bank has been cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Denver police and the federal Office of Thrift Supervision.

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