Identity fraudster steals £10,000 from Barclays boss

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The Independent Online

When Marcus Agius was appointed as the £800,000-a-year chairman of Barclays Bank, he was lauded for his ability to pull off financial coups. It is unlikely that falling foul of a conman who persuaded Britain's third biggest bank to issue a credit card in his name and then stole £10,000 is the sort of spectacular deal that Mr Agius had in mind.

The bank, which last year announced losses of £1.3bn from the sub-prime mortgages crisis in America, was forced to admit yesterday that its high-profile chairman had been scammed by a fraudster who succeeded in impersonating Mr Agius to a call-centre employee to the extent that a Barclaycard was sent out for his use.

The conman, who used personal information gleaned from the internet such as Mr Agius's date of birth and his address to dupe staff into believing he was the executive, then took the card to a high street branch of Barclays and withdrew £10,000.

A spokesman for the bank said: "It was down to human error, procedures were not followed fully and we have learnt from it."

Mr Agius, 61, who is married to a member of the Rothschild banking dynasty and enjoys a fearsome reputation as one of the City's leading deal-makers, has been reimbursed fully for the loss. The chairman, whose date of birth was still available on the Barclays website yesterday, said: "Credit card fraud is an issue which our industry continues to confront."

Barclays is understood to have tightened its security systems for senior employees by creating a new system of codes and passwords when they use the bank's call centres.

Identity theft is a growing problem which is estimated to cost the economy £1.7bn a year.