ID-Theft Ring Victimized Bernanke

Thieves used pickpocketed IDs, checkbooks for fraud
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 27, 2009 2:55 PM CDT
Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks in Oak Bluffs, Mass., Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2009.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

(Newser) – No less a public figure than the chairman of the Federal Reserve was one of 500 individuals victimized by an identity-theft ring that combined technologically sophisticated methods with old-fashioned thievery to bilk $2.1 million from consumers and financial institutions, Newsweek reports. The ringleader of the group, Clyde Austin Gray Jr.—aka “Big Head"—pleaded guilty last month to conspiracy to commit bank fraud.

Anna Bernanke, Ben’s wife, fell victim when her purse was stolen off a chair at a Washington Starbucks. But the thief, a henchman of Big Head, wasn’t out for cash: he stole the Bernankes' joint checkbook for an elaborate false-deposit scheme that resulted in the theft of $9,000 in cash from a Maryland Wachovia branch. Big Head's ring used other purse-snatchings, especially at sporting events, to create false driver's licenses and go on credit-card spending sprees.