For Immediate Release: October 2, 2019
RENSSELAER COUNTY CYBER PHISHING SCHEME SETTLED FOR $2.7 MILLION
Business Sector Targeted as Incidents of U.S. Data Breaches Doubled in Last Five Years
An online cyber-phishing scheme targeting a Capital Region company and an accompanying data-breach compromising the personal financial information of hundreds of local individuals has resulted in a $2.7 million class-action settlement, recently approved in State Supreme Court, Rensselaer County.
In January 2017, the human resources department of Taconic Biosciences, Inc., a 70-year-old company, based in Rensselaer, NY, was deceived by a cyber-criminal impersonating the email-identity of a member of the its management team. This led to the unauthorized access of the W-2 forms of former and current company employees.
Within days of the company’s January 2017 disclosure, multiple victims of the breach retained April Dalbec and Jacob Lamme, Shareholders at McNamee Lochner, P.C., to represent their interests. Following more than a year of hard-fought discovery, motions for dismissal, multiple negotiations and mediations, a settlement was reached with substantial benefits to the 665 certified class members. Upon motion to the court, representatives of the class were certified and the settlement was approved. Additionally, attorneys Dalbec and Lamme were recognized as duly-experienced and well-suited to protect the best interests of the class and were appointed as Plaintiffs’ class counsel by State Supreme Court Justice Andrew G. Ceresia.
It is noteworthy that the Capital Region’s pool of court approved, qualified and competent plaintiff’s class action counsel is limited.
In January 2019, after more than six months of intense negotiations a settlement was advanced to the court containing the following relief, to be paid by Taconic, to all members of the class:
- Two years of comprehensive identity theft protection;
- Up to $3,000 per qualifying member of the aggrieved class; and
- Legal fees and costs.
The settlement was approved by Justice Ceresia in July, without objection. Under the settlement agreement there is no finding of fault or wrong doing by the company.
Claimants have until July 15, 2020 to file for benefits under the settlement. Details and claim forms are available at: https://www.taconicbiosciencessettlement.com/Home/SubmitClaim. A toll-free telephone hotline is available for those with questions regarding filing procedures or eligibility: 1-877-845-8130.
“The idea that your identity and personal financial information may be spiraling away from your control leads to sleepless nights and a feeling of vulnerability,” said Christopher Groark, a former driver for Taconic Biosciences. “Knowing that Ms. Dalbec and Mr. Lamme were protecting me and my coworkers was reassuring. They led us through the thick fog that came with this case. They knew the law – and were committed to advocating for our interests.”
Jacob Lamme, co-counsel on the matter, said: “Our goal was to fight for a remedy that fairly and reasonably compensated the 665 individuals who innocently reported to work thinking their personal information was safe – however and as part of an alarming trend, they unknowingly became victims of a data breach stemming from an identity theft scheme.”
According to the Identity Theft Research Center (ITRC), last year there were more than more than 1,200 data breaches; nearly half of the incidents impacted the business sector compromising 531 million records. The most recently available data (August 2019) reveals there were 130 data breaches exposing more than 1.7 million records in that month alone.
“It was clear that the targets of cybercrime are no longer limited to giant corporations, local companies are being baited – and phishing schemes such as this are taking place in every corner of the world. Upstate New York is not isolated to the vulnerability or exposure stemming from identity theft. Employers must take reasonable affirmative steps to protect their employees’ personal identifying information or they could subject themselves to liability.” said April Dalbec, who jointly-represented the injured Taconic employees.
McNamee Lochner, P.C. is a full-service law-firm with offices in Albany and Clifton Park, NY. Established in 1863 – it handles a range of matters in both state and federal courts.
Media Contact: Paul Larrabee