The chairman of the Irvine Co. and the 45th richest man in the world according to Forbes, Donald Bren, recently had a $1.4 million tax refund check stolen from him in an identity theft case the Secret Service is investigating.
According to a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in May a man who looks nothing like Bren set up bank accounts in Bren’s name earlier this year, deposited Bren’s refund check into one, and then transferred most of the money out.
The complaint did not say how the man obtained Bren’s check.
The suspect is referred to in court documents as FNU LNU, for “first name unknown” and “last name unknown” as he has not been identified.
The man set up four accounts in Bren’s name at East West Bank’s Cerritos branch on Feb. 16 and used a U.S. Treasury check payable to Bren in the amount of $1,389,524.61 as deposit for the accounts.
The man gave a mailing address in South Los Angeles and listed his occupation as “smoke shop.”
During the next month the man made a series of transfers from the accounts in a total of more than $1.1 million.
During this time the Internal Revenue Service notified the Secret Service of the deposit. According to the complaint the Secret Service “came to know that the true Donald Bren, to whom the IRS refund check was made payable, is the chairman of the Irvine Company, and not FNU LNU.”
The Orange County Business Journal reports that Bren is not on the hook for the loss, which would be taken by the bank or its insurance company.
The $1.4 million would represent around 0.12 percent of Bren’s reported net worth of $12 billion.