The "hactivist" web collective Anonymous took aim at Bank of America this week, releasing emails leaked from a former employee that purported to show widespread "corruption and fraud" at the banking giant and its subsidiary, Balboa Insurance. But unlike Anonymous' other high-profile strikes — crashing the website of the funeral-picketing Westboro Baptist Church, for instance — the Bank of America punch didn't seem to land. Why not? Here, four theories:
Mortgage fraud is scandalous... but also old news
This is a take-down? "Forgive me if I suppress a yawn," says Annie Lowrey at Slate. To be sure, Bank of America is tied to a "massive mortgage fraud scandal," but one that has been in "broad daylight" since at least 2004. And even if true, these new allegations that Bank of America tried to bury documents tied to overpriced, dubious insurance policies seem like pretty "small potatoes."
Anonymous doesn't have the goods
The "claims are hard hitting," and if nothing else, Bank of America should get a hefty fine for the "fraudulent" activity revealed in the leaked emails, says Steve Ragan at The Tech Herald. But a "single email chain" isn't enough to hang Bank of America.
It's all just too confusing
The leak from Anonymous is too "perplexing" to do much damage, say Cynthia Koons and Dan Fitzpatrick at The Wall Street Journal. The impenetrable emails seem to suggest that Balboa erroneously sold flood insurance for homes that weren't in a flood zone, but it's not clear from this leak "exactly what the alleged wrongdoing was," or why it should be considered "fraud."
Anonymous isn't WikiLeaks... yet
How "damning" the Bank of America leak is remains to be seen, but Anonymous has a lot riding on its success, says Parmy Olson at Forbes. If the leak garners enough interest, the web collective could grow to compete with WikiLeaks as "a source of comeuppance for disgruntled employees with damning information." And it might ultimately beat WikiLeaks at its own game. Unlike the leader-focused WikiLeaks, Anonymous is "global, fluid, intelligent, impossible to pin down," which could make it a more appealing place to take your secrets. But it's not there yet.