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Fed chairman hit by ID thieves

22 charges after hundreds are hit by pickpocket-allied fraudsters

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The US Federal Reserve Board chairman has become the latest high-profile public figure to fall victim to identity theft.

Ben Bernanke, whose day job leaves him in charge of the US money supply, became the victim of fraud after a pick pocket stole his wife's handbag from a Starbucks shop in Washington's Eastern Market. Credit cards, cheque books, cash and a driver's license were taken as a result.

This information was used to pass fraudulent cheques in Bernanke's name. Despite his status in the banking industry, no immediate alarm bells appear to have rung. The fraud was eventually detected and linked to a wider bank fraud racket that led to the indictment of 22 suspects earlier this week. Mail theft, pickpocketing and corrupt insiders were all allegedly used by the gang in order to build up profiles on prospective marks before establishing fraudulent lines of credit.

Bernanke, via a spokesman at the Federal Reserve, commented on the ID theft, telling CNN: "Our family was but one of 500 separate instances traced to one crime ring."

Public figures, despite their notoriety, are by no means immune to ID theft. Our favorite example in this category is an attempt by fraudsters to impersonate French president Nicolas Sarkozy. Stolen payment card details in Sarkozy's name were reportedly used to make mobile phone subscription payments. Six people, including workers at a mobile phone store, were arrested over the alleged scam in October. ®

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