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.
Citing court documents, the magazine says Bernanke fell victim to the gang after a pickpocket stole his wife Anna's purse - which contained her social security card, chequebook, credit cards and IDs - in a branch of Starbucks in Washington DC last August.
Days later a cheque for $900 from the couple's Wachovia bank account was deposited at a Bank of America branch. Several other cheques were cashed before police charged a man, George Reid.
The case was later dismissed but, according to Newsweek, the theft was part of a bigger, nationwide, crime ring that the US Secret Service and US Postal Inspection Service were already investigating. The gang is accused of causing more than $2.1 million in losses to at least 10 financial institutions.
Reid is one of 10 people included in charges filed in US District Court in Alexandria in relation to the identity theft ring.
According to Newsweek, a gang ringleader, Clyde Gray, known as "Big Head," pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud last month.
He is believed to have hired an army of pickpockets, mail thieves, and office workers to steal cheques, credit cards and other personal records. He would then create fake IDs to be used by co-conspirators carrying out the bank transactions.
In a statement given to Newsweek, Bernanke says: "Identity theft is a serious crime that affects millions of Americans each year. 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."
Bernanke Victimized by Identity Fraud Ring - Newsweek