An Awol US soldier managed to convince Citi in a conversation over the phone that he was Paul Allen and tricked the bank into sending him a debit card in the Microsoft co-founder's name.
In a complaint unsealed on Monday, federal authorities allege Brandon Price called Citibank's customer service department in January and convinced an employee to change Allen's address from one in Seattle to one in Pittsburgh and also to add a new phone number to the account.
A few days later Price allegedly called the bank again, claiming to be the billionaire Allen, revealing that he had misplaced his debit card but did not want to report it stolen. A replacement was sent to the Pittsburgh address and activated by phone.
Price, who went Awol from the US Army in June 2010 and is wanted as a deserter, lived at the Pittsburgh address.
The card was quickly used to pay $658.81 against a delinquent loan account in Price's name at the Armed Forces Bank. An attempt was also made to carry out a $15,000 Western Union transaction over the phone.
The following day the card was used at a Gamestop store where surveillance footage caught the buyer. A man matching the same description was then spotted using the card to make a $1 purchase in a Family Dollar store.
Citi spokeswoman Catherine Pulley told the AP that the bank "identified the actions of a fraudulent account takeover and turned the matter over to law enforcement" and "will continue to work with law enforcement in the ongoing investigation".