12 December 2017
Richard Bird

Richard Bird

Richard Bird - JPMorgan Chase

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Bernanke hit by ID theft gang - Newsweek

28 August 2009  |  6764 views  |  0
US Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke has fallen victim to an identity fraud ring accused of hitting hundreds of people and stealing more than $2.1 million, according to Newsweek.

It Would Almost Be Funny If It Wasn't So Sad

31 August 2009  |  5335 views  |  0

I guess it would be easy to say that Mr. Bernanke's recent disclosure that he was a victim of identity theft is yet another example of instant karma, cruel (or deserved) irony, cosmic justice, etc, etc. It would be easy, but it wouldn't be particularly helpful and, frankly, not very funny.

In an age of bits and bytes, the Secret Service and FBI are doggedly chasing a "gang" of miscreants that is practicing the technological equivalent of "smash and grab"? Pickpockets, fake ID crafters and paper check fraudsters - this is what the authorities try to keep our attention on in the press so that we don't actually share with people how truly vulnerable their electronic transactions and identities are? I am certain that $2.1 million and 500 victims is no laughing matter, particularly if you are one of those victims.

A couple of years ago, the VISA interchange was hacked. Hundreds of thousands of account numbers were stolen, and their wasn't a single bit of press on the matter. How do I know? Well, I was one of the victims. Mr. Bernanke's $900 in fraud checks pales in comparison to the $3700 in electronic transactions that a Russian gang siphoned from my account - buying more than $1800 in cigarettes from online outlets and, strangely, about $250 in dried floral wreaths in less than 8 hours over a weekend. I can only assume that some thug's mother liked eucalyptus wreaths. With a minimal of effort on my part, I was able to identify my particular thief and track an email address down for him. He was a PhD candidate in Mathematics, and his algorithms cracked the VISA vault. Within two hours of sending said criminal mathematician an email, I received a phone call from an FBI agent asking me to "cease and desist" since this character was a pawn in a broader operation. And who says Big Brother is all bad?

I never received another call or explanation after that one. No apologies from VISA. No apologies from my bank. No newspaper articles highlighting the enormous weaknesses in the electronic economy.

So I guess it should be funny, or at least ironic, that Mr. Bernanke suffered at the hands of a criminal, and that his bank account was co-opted via the ancient practice of paper check forgery. I guess it should be funny that Newsweek is implying that would should be watching out for pickpockets at our local Starbucks, instead of holding corporations accountable for actually safeguarding our data. I guess we should find it funny that the gang leader in this criminal soap opera was nicknamed "Big Head" - okay, I'll grant you that one, that is actually pretty funny.

It would be funny, if it just wasn't so damned sad.


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job title Vice-President Information Risk Manager
location Columbus
member since 2009
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Seasoned financial services veteran in; information and operations risk management, hedge fund administration, retail bank and treasury operations, commodities trading and M&A due diligence.

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