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General News of Thursday, 30 July 2009

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Man held for identity theft against U.S. Rep.

A man is being held in Ghana on charges of attempted extortion and identity theft against U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, D-Boca Raton, the U.S. Secret Service said today.

Eric Kwame Agbosu, 27, was arrested on July 15 by authorities in the West African nation, Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said.

Donovan declined to reveal other details of the case, including whether any other public figures were victimized.

A person familiar with the investigation said Wexler was contacted several weeks ago by a man from Ghana who had Wexler’s Social Security number and other information and threatened to turn the data over to identity theft specialists if Wexler didn’t pay him. The source said the man also had similar information on other public figures.

The source said Wexler refused to pay and contacted the U.S. Capitol Police. Since Wexler was contacted by the man in Ghana, the source said, unauthorized attempts have been made to gain access to Wexler’s personal bank account and to use his credit cards.

President Obama visited Ghana this month. The Secret Service said there did not appear to be any relationship between the presidential visit and the timing of the alleged extortion of Wexler.

Wexler’s office referred questions to an attorney, Pamela Marple, who issued this statement:

“Congressman Wexler greatly appreciates the professionalism and ongoing assistance of the United States Secret Service and Capitol Police regarding a matter where he was targeted as a Member of Congress and was the victim of crime involving extortion and attempted identity theft. This remains an ongoing legal matter that will be closely monitored.”

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