Discarded laptop is buried treasure in SEC fraud case


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EDITOR’S NOTE: It’s amazing how these stories evolve. If you wrote it as fiction, nobody would believe it.


Discarded laptop is buried treasure in SEC fraud case

Computer held e-mails from lawyers for Goldman Sachs trader, Times says

A discarded laptop found in the garbage has turned out to be a treasure trove of new information about the only lawsuit the Securities and Exchange Commission has brought over Wall Street’s mortgage securities debacle.

E-mails found on the laptop shed new light on Goldman Sachs trader Fabrice Tourre’s legal battle with the SEC over his involvement with highly controversial sales of mortgage securities, the New York Times said in an extensive report on Wednesday.

The report focused on how Tourre, who famously described himself in e-mails as the “fabulous Fab,” has become the “face of mortgage-securities fraud” even as many question how a lone junior trader at Goldman Sachs could have been involved in such an allegedly extensive fraud without others at the firm knowing about it.

An equally intriguing question is how the laptop that was the source of much of the new information made its way into the hands of Times reporters Louise Story and Gretchen Morgenson.

According to the newspaper’s account, it got hold of non-public communications from Tourre’s lawyers to the SEC from a laptop provided by an artist and filmmaker in New York, Nancy Cohen (also known as Nancy Koan). Cohen says she found the materials in a laptop that a friend gave her in 2006.

According to the Times, that unidentified friend told Cohen he stumbled upon the laptop in a garbage area in a downtown New York apartment building.

E-mail messages for Mr. Tourre continued streaming into the device, but Ms. Cohen said she had ignored them until she heard Mr. Tourre’s name in news reports about the SEC case,” the Times reported. “She then provided the material to The Times.”

Cohen actually had the laptop for several years before Tourre’s name first turned up on the front page of newspapers in connection with the mortgage fraud case.

“She said, where have I heard that name? Oh, yeah, it’s on the welcome screen of my computer,” said Curtis Ellis, a political consultant and friend of Cohen’s who said he was enlisted to help the artist deal with a deluge of media calls Wednesday.

Cohen went to “a number of people” with the story, and the Times was the first to call back, Ellis told msnbc.com.

“What a curse this has been for her,” Ellis said. “This is not her dream come true, but she felt it was her duty to share this information.”

He said the laptop really was pulled from the garbage and was not protected by a password. Messages to Tourre apparently continued to stream into the laptop’s e-mail program.

Ellis wouldn’t comment on how the information was given to the Times reporters, but said that they do not currently have the laptop.

Ellis, who managed the losing campaign of Tea Party candidate Jack Davis in the recent special election for New York’s 26th Congressional District, laughed off conspiracy theories about Cohen hacking into Tourre’s e-mail.

“This is a woman that needs help getting into her own e-mail account,” he said.

The Times also denied hacking into Tourre’s e-mail account.

“As we disclosed in our story, certain documents were provided to us by a named source,” the Times said in a statement. “The Times did not ‘hack’ any e-mail accounts or ask anyone to do so. We are confident that our receipt and use of those documents was in keeping with our journalistic standards and complied with the law.”

Tourre’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment, the Times said.

9 Responses

  1. Oh, Raja, when I realized it was YOU, I had been reading here on Neal’s site sense Feb.09, I had no idea your brilliance of knowledge and especially your care. Having met you today,(i was one that asked Many questions in the back or comments to you)..
    I just want to gen-u-fleck in words how I AND many today REALLY APPRECIATED all you know and gave. (wished I could have givin you a hug)

  2. Raja, A prominent attorney in Florida and colleague of Neil, has discussed successful requests for discovery from the court to obtain the computer from the secretary or persons responsible for providing an established copy of a MERS Milestone Report. Consequently, after deposing the secretary or person responsible for the MERS document [latest entry] and after retrieving the meta data from the keyboard strokes, it was determined the MERS Milestone Report was in fact created just before a foreclosure action commenced or NOD was mailed to the homeowner. Once again, MERS entries as admitted by MERS executives is a voluntary entry made by the member bank onto the MERS system. The “mortgage” chain of custody tracking is created only a short time before a foreclosure takes place and is why so many MERS Milestones Reports are inaccurate and controversial. MERS in my opinion, works hand in hand with the servicer getting their “Ducks in a Row”, before proceeding with foreclosure.


  3. It is really a treasure. We conduct an audit and can extract the information from the laptop or any computer, even if the information is deleted. We can extract the same information from the cell phone. If some attorney subpoena these computer/ cell phone we can help in collecting the information of the “BURIED TREASURE”. We have the ability in getting information from the computers and the cell phones, because these information can lead to the real treasure. “DATA NEVER LOST”

  4. Wouldn’t it be nice if more laptops were thrown into the waste baskets of the right person. Should put a collection container NOTICE for morally discarded lap tops only recycle HERE! or send to recycle addressed to the comptroller.

  5. Not Stolen – Borrowed

  6. stolen from Goldman, sounds fine to me, I hope someone steals some more from them.

  7. I find this implausable. Emails that are sent are not private, in other words, authority in the US can access emails. If the SEC would do their job, their would be no need for this ridiculous theater.

  8. Having worked for an investment bank, I find it hard to believe that a Goldman laptop was found a) without any network security at all and b) just happening to be Fabrice’s emails coming into the inbox constantly.

    Something smells fishy. Laptop probably stolen from the company and the ‘found in a dumpster’ story was a ruse.

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