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Archive for Friday, August 28, 2009

Bernanke account struck by ID theft

August 28, 2009

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— No one is safe from identity theft, not even the chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Ben Bernanke’s personal checking account became entangled in an elaborate identity-theft scheme after his wife Anna’s purse was stolen last August at a Capitol Hill Starbucks. According to a District of Columbia police report, it contained her Social Security card, checkbook, credit cards and IDs.

It’s not been revealed how much money was stolen from the Bernankes’ account. But someone started cashing checks on their bank account days after the purse was stolen from her chair. The thefts helped fuel an ongoing investigation into a sophisticated ring.

Losses from the fraud totaled more than $2.1 million and involved at least 10 financial institutions, court document said. Clyde Austin Gray Jr. of Waldorf, Md., a suspected ringleader in the scheme, pleaded guilty on July 22 in Alexandria, Va., federal court.

The banks bore primary responsibility for the losses and the victims’ accounts, including the Bernankes, were most likely made whole.

“Identity theft is a serious crime that affects millions of Americans each year,” Bernanke said in a statement. “Our family was but one of 500 separate instances traced to one crime ring. I am grateful for the law enforcement officers who patiently and diligently work to solve and prevent these financial crimes.”

Prosecutors wrote that Gray hired pick pockets then made counterfeit IDs for the participants. The coconspirators conducted the bank transactions, and Gray took a cut of the proceeds.

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