Man wanted for taking Bren's refund check

August 04, 2010
(Courtesy U.S. Secret…)

The U.S. Secret Service is searching for a man who stole a $1.4-million tax refund check from Orange County's wealthiest businessman and got away with most of the cash.

Investigators say the man stole the check from Donald Bren, the chairman of the Irvine Co. and the 45th richest man in the world, according to Forbes magazine. Bren is worth an estimated $12 billion.

It's unclear how the unidentified suspect actually got a hold of the Newport Beach resident's check.

According to a criminal complaint, the suspect set up four bank accounts in Bren's name Feb. 16 at East West Bank's Cerritos branch. He then deposited the U.S. Treasury refund check worth $1,389,524.61 into one of the accounts.

The man then made a series of transfers from the accounts totaling more than $1.1 million, according to the complaint.

The man gave a mailing address in South Los Angeles and listed his occupation as "smoke shop."


By the time authorities discovered the fraud most of the money was gone, only $200,000 in certificates of deposit and $64,049.58 in cash remained in the accounts.

Bren, however, is not on the hook for the loss, according to the Orange County Business Journal, which first reported the story.

The bank or its insurance company is liable for the money.

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