Bloomberg theft 'foiled by banks'

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The Independent US

New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is worth at least $5 billion, is the latest to fall victim to the scourge of identity theft.

Mr Bloomberg, who has flirted with running for the US presidency in 2008, noticed that some $400,000 was missing from his Bank of America personal account. The police were alerted and soonarrested two men and charged them with theft.

One man, Odalis Bostic, was indicted for trying to steal $420,000 from the mayor. Prosecutors said he an company and deposited two forged cheques bearing mayor's personal account information. The banks spotted the forgeries and called the police.

Mr Bostic charged with attempted grand larceny – a crime punishable by up to seven years in prison. Anotyer man, Charles nelson has been charged with stealing $10,000 from the mayor's account in may. He faces 14 years in jail.

The reaction of fellow New Yorkers was not entirely sympathetic: 'Hey Mayor! –how about helping out the little people?' said one blogger. He suggested that 'perhaps now the Mayor will tell the police department to accept identity theft complaints from regular people.' Others found it odd that the alleged thieves are facing such heavy sentences should they be convicted.

Some US cities have laws that allow victims of identity theft to "freeze" their credit reports and thereby prevent others from opening new accounts in their name. The many victims of identity theft often find that credit cards taken out in their name or even large loans.

More details of Mr Bloomberg's lifestyle were presented in yesterday's New York Times which profiled his London apartment in Cadogan Square where this year he spent $7 million (£3.5 million) to extend his lease until 2113. Now that he has ruled out running for president, Mr. Bloomberg, plans to spend more of his time in London it when he is no longer mayor. Back home in New York he has an Upper East Side retreat on which he spent $86 million for two buildings.