U.S. Marshals recently reported that a man with a strong resemblance to a John Ruffo was quite visibly present at a Los Angeles Dodgers game, four rows behind home plate, on August 5, 2016.
That may seem like an innocuous sentence, but there’s obviously more to the story. What does this have to do with Fraud Week you ask? What’s the big deal? Who’s John Ruffo? Just a most wanted fugitive who’s evaded the law for almost 23 years, that’s who.
Mr. Ruffo, it turns out, was convicted of a $350 million bank fraud scheme in the late 1990s and sentenced to 17 ½ years in prison. He was to report to a federal prison on November 9, 1998 in New Jersey, but never showed up and is still on the run. He was last seen in a surveillance video from an ATM in Queens on that day.
If that part isn’t unusual enough, the actual fraud Mr. Ruffo committed may be even more bizarre. In 1993, he and a partner devised a scam where they told banks they were leading an international research program on a tobacco alternative for Philip Morris that required the purchase of hundreds of computers and the hiring of staff at five offshore locations. Even though neither of the men worked for Philip Morris at the time, they convinced seven foreign and domestic banks, with a fake project name, corporate stamp and executive sign-off, to loan them more than $350 million.
The scheme eventually unraveled in 1996 and Mr. Ruffo was indicted on 160 counts of bank fraud and money laundering. When he subsequently disappeared, one FBI agent believed he may have socked away more than $8 million.
So remember this on Fraud Week, even the most wanted fraudsters need to get out and see a baseball game occasionally. But here’s a tip: don’t sit right behind home plate.
This article is part of series highlighting fraud from the professional sporting world in support of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiner's (ACFE) annual International Fraud Awareness Week. We invite you to read our other articles at the links below.
ACFE's International Fraud Awareness Week is an opportunity for anti-fraud professionals and communities to come together to look at how far reaching the effects of fraud can be. Check out our Schneider Downs Business Consulting LinkedIn page throughout the week for additional information from the ACFE.
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