According to Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr. five people have been indicted as part of a fraud ring that targeted Saks Fifth Avenue.
$400,000 Worth of Fraud
The ring used information stolen from shoppers to purchase more than $400,000 worth of luxury shoes, handbags, and accessories in 91 different transactions from Saks’ shoe department. Apparently, the department is so large it requires its own ZIP code: 10022-SHOE.
According to Vance, the alleged ringleader, Tamara Williams, has been accused of providing personal information, such as Social Security numbers and credit card numbers, to four employees at at the store. The employees then used this information to buy shoes and purses that Williams had pre-selected. Williams then sold the items on the black market, returned them for store gift cards, or kept them for herself. She also used some of the money she received from selling the items as payment for her accomplices.
Williams and the other defendants — Kriss Rockson, Jason Chance, Alaia Harrison, and Michael Knight-Williams have been indicted for 66 charges including grand larceny, identity theft, and scheme to defraud. Vance’s office worked with the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security to track down the defendants, who reputedly had been buying shoes with stolen information since last April.
Return to Saks
Vance’s office has plans to return all the stolen goods to Saks, who will then determine what to do next. He joked, “I have a lot of friends who might like this stuff.” He warned customers they should be vigilant about monitoring their credit card bills and credit reports, and added that businesses should call law enforcement if they suspect fraud. “There are only two kinds of businesses now,” Vance said. “Those that have been hacked and those that haven’t.”
He also went on to say that he feels existing laws for identity fraud fall short. The maximum punishment for stealing the identity of one person is the exact same punishment for victimizing 250 people. “State laws are not adequate to combat the kinds of cases we are seeing,” he said.
Source: The New York Times, Police Say Identity Thieves Hit Saks’ Shoe Department, October 6, 2014
The Law Office of Peter Berlin – Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney
16130 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 570, Los Angeles, CA 91436