Microsoft Co-Founder, Citibank Fooled by Easy Scam

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has become the victim of an online identity fraud attack.

According to reports, a former United States Army soldier used a debit card linked to one of Allen's accounts to attempt several fraudulent transactions.

Federal investigators have revealed that Brandon Lee Price, a 28-year-old U.S. Army deserter from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was able to change the address on a bank account owned by Allen and have a new debit card sent to his home. (Source:

Citibank Fooled by Classic Scam

In order to acquire the card, Price simply phoned Citibank pretending to be Allen. He requested a change of address for one of Allen's accounts (from a Seattle address to a Pittsburgh one).

Several days later, Price called Citibank again, this time claiming he had lost the debit card for that account. He asked Citibank to send a new one, and the bank representative complied, using the new Pittsburgh address.

Price then used the debit card to attempt a $15,000 Western Union transfer of funds. He also tried to use the card to make a payment  of more than $600 toward a loan of his own.

Finally, retail surveillance shows Price attempting to make purchases at video game and dollar stores.

Although slow to catch onto Price's illegal activities, Citibank eventually detected the fraud and contacted local authorities. Further investigation revealed that only the loan payment of $658 was actually transacted.

Price has been apprehended. None of Allen's other accounts with Citibank were breached.

Paul Allen Now a Poster Child for Identity Theft

Law enforcement officials are using this high-profile fraud case to emphasize to the public the threat posed by identity theft. Allen, who is worth an estimated $14 billion, according to Forbes magazine, supports that effort.

"Clearly, it's a reminder that anyone can be a victim of this," Allen said, via a spokesman. "It certainly is a surprise and reason for everyone to make sure that all that stuff is properly cared for and monitored." (Source:

Among those surprised are industry analysts, who wonder how a fraudster was able to change an account's mailing address and acquire a debit card in someone else's name without providing adequate proof of identity.

Citibank has refused to comment on the matter, citing concerns about client confidentiality.

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