Manhattan DA Cy Vance announced today that five people have been indicted for running an identify theft ring involving Saks Fifth Avenue customers' identities to ultimately buy $400,000 of products from a bevy of luxury brands like Chanel, Valentino and Givenchy. And the people involved were Saks employees.
Vance said, "This identity theft ring was allegedly able to walk away with hundreds of pairs of shoes and bags due to the help of store employees, who are charged with making the fraudulent sales possible. Time after time, we see insiders at companies enabling theft to occur."
According to his office, Tamara Williams, 36, was the ringleader of the group, taking Social Security numbers and dates of birth from Saks account holders, and giving them to four Saks associates, Kriss Rockson, 45; Jason Change, 25; Alaia Harrison, 20; and Michael Knight-Williams, 44. She would give them a list of pre-approved items from brands like "Chanel, Valentino, Christian Louboutin, Ferragamo, Balmain, YSL, Gucci, Giuseppe Zanotti, Kate Spade, Louis Vuitton, and Givenchy" and then the associates would give the identity information to a group of fake shoppers. From the DA's office:
Vance pointed out
Three separately charged shoppers, who have previously been arraigned in Criminal Court, are accused of receiving merchandise that was pre-purchased by the sales associates, and then meeting WILLIAMS at designated places, such as hair salons and gas stations in Queens, to hand-off the stolen merchandise, which was then resold on the black market.
As part of the scheme, the shoppers were also sometimes instructed to return certain stolen property to Saks Fifth Avenue in exchange for store gift cards, which were then resold for profit or used as payment for the shoppers’ services.
In all, this identity theft ring is believed to be responsible for more than $400,000 in fraudulent purchases over the course of 91 distinct transactions. The evidence reveals that no physical credit card was ever presented; instead, the stolen credit card information was manually entered into the system by the sales associates who processed the transactions. In some instances, no customer was present at the checkout counter during the purchase.
, "This was not a mass stealing of identification as we have heard about in stories like Target and others. These were pinpointed attempts on individual accounts."
The defendants face charges like Grand Larceny, Attempted Grand Larceny, Scheme to Defraud, Identity Theft, Attempted Identity Theft, Criminal Possession of Stolen Property, and Unlawful Possession of Personal Identification Information.