Microsoft founder Paul Allen had identity stolen by AWOL soldier
Brandon Price accused of removing funds from Citibank account
By Jaikumar Vijayan | Computerworld US | Published: 09:37, 28 March 2012
An AWOL US Army soldier is accused of stealing Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's identity and using it attempt to steal money from Allen's Citibank account.
Court documents alleged that Brandon Price, 30, impersonated Allen on the phone and convinced a Citibank employee to send him a debit card in Allen's name and account number.
Price, who has been absent without leave from the US Army since June 2010, is accused of then attempting to conduct more than $15,000 (£9,500) worth of transactions using the illegally obtained debit card.
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According to court records, Price called Citibank's customer service on January 9 and managed to change the address on Allen's account. He also added a new phone number to the account on the same day.
On January 12, Price, representing himself as Allen, called Citibank again, this time to say that he had misplaced his debit card but didnt want to report it as stolen. Price allegedly convinced the bank to send him a replacement debit card.
Price received the card a day later, activated it by phone immediately and used it to successfully make a payment of $658.81 (£413) against a delinquent loan account in Price's name at the Armed Forces Bank. He then attempted to use the card the same day to make a $15,000 Western Union transaction via the phone.
A day later, Price is alleged to have used the card for a $278 purchase at a local Gamestop store and a $1 purchase at a Family Dollar store. Video surveillance cameras at both stores caught Price attempting to make those transactions. Price was arrested March 2 and is being held in federal custody on bank fraud and wire fraud related charges. He faces a maximum of 30 years in prison if convicted.
The complaint against Price alleges that he used a computer in carrying out his theft. However, it's not immediately clear from the complaint how Price used a computer in carrying out his alleged crimes.
It's also not clear from the court documents how Price obtained the identifying information that he would have needed in order to pass himself off as Allen or to get Citibank to change Allen's account address and send him a replacement card.