Saks Fifth Avenue employees busted in identity theft ring

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance (c.) stands behind a number of items that were purchased by the identity theft ring.Kevin C. Downs for New York Daily News Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance (c.) stands behind a number of items that were purchased by the identity theft ring.

It was an inside job.

Local and federal authorities broke up an identity theft ring made up of Saks Fifth Avenue employees who allegedly stole customer information and used that to buy $400,000 worth of designer bags and shoes that were resold on the black market.

Operating out of Saks’ flagship midtown store, accused ringleader Tamara Williams filched the info of some 50 customers and then distributed that to four sales associates, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office said Monday.

Williams then directed them to purchase luxury goods from brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy and Christian Louboutin that she “pre-selected.”

The gang made a total of 91 purchases and each time they manually entered the stolen credit card information into the Saks computer system.

In some cases, Williams’ alleged accomplices were “instructed” to return the ill-gotten items in exchange for gift cards that were then resold.

Eventually, Saks security got wind of what was going on and alerted authorities.

The ring, which began operating in April, was rounded up in recent days with the help of the Secret Service and Homeland Security investigators, District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said.

The Saks Fifth Avenue employees bought $400,000 worth of shoes and designer bags that they resold on the black market or returned for gift cards.Kevin C. Downs for New York Daily News The Saks Fifth Avenue employees bought $400,000 worth of shoes and designer bags that they resold on the black market or returned for gift cards.

“This was not a mass stealing of identification as we have heard about in stories like Target and others,” Vance said. “These were pinpointed attempts on individual accounts.”

Vance admitted he too was a victim of identity theft about six months ago “when someone tried to open an account in my name in a retail store on the West Coast.”

In his case, Vance said, the store figured out what was going on and alerted him before any damage was done.

Williams, 40, of Queens, was charged with identity theft, scheming to defraud, grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property and other charges.

Her alleged accomplices were hit with similar charges and identified as Kriss Rockson, 46, of Queens; Jason Chance, 25, of Valley Stream, LI; Alaia Harrison, 21, of Queens: and Michael Knight-Williams, 44, of Queens.

All five entered not-guilty pleas at their arraignment Monday in Manhattan Supreme Court. 

csiemaszko@nydailynews.com

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Article source: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/saks-avenue-employees-busted-identity-theft-ring-article-1.1964942

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