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Fed Chairman Bernanke Falls Victim To Identity Theft

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Mr Bernanke's personal bank account became entangled in an elaborate identity-theft scheme after his wife Anna's purse was stolen last August at a Starbucks coffee shop in Washington DC. According to a police report, it contained her Social Security card, cheque book, credit cards and IDs.

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

Losses from the fraud added up to more than $2.1m (£37.5m) and involved at least 10 financial institutions, court documents said. Clyde Austin Gray Jr. of Waldorf, Maryland, a suspected ringleader in the scheme, pleaded guilty in a Virginia court in July.

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," Mr 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.

At least one cheque from the Bernanke account for $900 was deposited on Aug. 13, 2008, into the account of another identity theft victim at a Bank of America branch in suburban Maryland, according to an affidavit. Authorities alleged that George L. Reid, 41, of Washington, cashed cheques that day amounting to at least $9,000 in a string of transactions after the fake deposits inflated the related account balances.

Brian Lapidus, an identity theft expert with Kroll Fraud Solutions, said it's not unusual to hear of high-ranking officials caught up by identity theft. His firm has worked with celebrities, senators and others who have been victims.

"To an identity thief, we're all just names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth," Mr Lapidus said. "Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America."

A message to an attorney who represented Mr Reid in the DC case was not immediately returned. Court records didn't show an attorney for Reid in the current case.

It appears Mr Reid was just doing what the bankers where doing artificially inflating balances with money that wasn't there's for profit.

Difference is Mr Reid will get jail the bankers get a bonus.

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