Yet another US official got taken in by a couple of Russian pranksters, ABC News reported last week.
In January, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell spoke on the phone with someone he mistakenly believed was Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelesnky. Only it wasn’t Zelensky at all.
A video of the prank call later surfaced on Russian State TV, according to Bloomberg which first reported on it.
In the call, Powell answers questions on a variety of issues, including the Russian central bank and his inflation forecast.
A spokesperson for the Federal Reserve confirmed last Thursday that while no confidential or sensitive information was discussed during the phone call, the incident has been referred to law enforcement.
The spokesperson told ABC News that the video appears to be edited and the Federal Reserve is unable to confirm its accuracy.
The two Russian pranksters, Alexei Stolyarov and Vladimir Kuznetsov, have a long history of hoodwinking foreign leaders over the last several years, including the late Senator John McCain, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and Senator Mitch McConnell, as well as former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Prince Harry.
In early 2018, the pair, staunch supporters of Russian President Vladimir Putin, convinced RussiaGate proponent Adam Schiff that they had nude photos of then-President Donald Trump obtained by a Russian model who had an affair with Trump during the 2013 Miss Universe Pageant in Moscow.
According to ABC News, the fact that Chairman Powell was also duped by the Russians will likely raise concerns about the Central Bank’s security measures since remarks from Fed officials often draw scrutiny from business leaders and investors that could cause movement in trading markets.
In October, remarks on economic performance and monetary policy made by St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank president James Bullard at an off-the-record meeting with Citigroup prompted a backlash in the markets.