Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke was among hundreds of victims of an identity fraud ring that stole more than $2.1 million from consumers and financial institutions across the United States, Newsweek magazine reported on its website.

The head of the U.S. central bank and his wife were swept up in a case against the ring after her purse, with personal checks inside, was snatched at a coffee shop in August 2008, Newsweek reported, citing recently filed court documents.

Someone soon began cashing checks on the Bernanke family bank account, a crime that became part of a wide-ranging federal identity theft investigation that was already underway.

The targets were members of a nationwide ring that used a combination of old-fashioned thievery and high-tech fraud to loot the bank accounts of unsuspecting victims, Newsweek reported.

The investigation by the Secret Service and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service culminated in recent months with a series of arrests, criminal complaints and indictments brought by federal prosecutors in Virginia.

In a statement to Newsweek, Bernanke said identity theft is a serious crime that affects millions of Americans each year.

Our family was but one of 500 separate instances traced to one crime ring, Bernanke said. I am grateful for the law enforcement officers who patiently and diligently work to solve and prevent these financial crimes.