| John Ruffo|
| November 24, 1954 (age 61) (1954-11-24) Brooklyn, New York|
Former business executive
Wanted by the United States Marshals Service for bank fraud
John Ruffo (born November 24, 1954 in Brooklyn, New York) is a former business executive, white-collar criminal and confidence man, who in 1998 was convicted in a scheme to defraud many US and foreign banking institutions of over 350 million dollars. The swindle is considered one of the most significant cases of bank fraud in US history. He has been a fugitive from justice ever since, and is on the US Marshals 15 most wanted list.
He was the President of CCS, an IBM equipment reseller in New York City, in 1996.
John Ruffo Wikipedia
Ruffo was born to a close-knit Italian American family in a working class neighborhood in Brooklyn. He attended New York University on a scholarship, earning a degree in Computer science. In May 1980, he married his childhood sweetheart, Linda. Ruffo initially worked for United Computer Systems LLC in New York, before eventually branching out to form his own firm, Consolidated Computer Services (CCS).
Ruffo became acquainted with and befriended another prominent New York businessman, Edward J. Reiners, formerly an executive with Phillip Morris USA. After Reiners was laid off, he approached Ruffo with an idea in 1992. The scheme involved soliciting various banks in an attempt to secure financing for a fictitious "Project Star". They pitched the project to bank executives as a top secret operation for Phillip Morris to develop smokeless cigarettes. Ruffo's company, CCS, was to provide the computer hardware and consulting for 5 offices set up to work on the project. They leveraged Reiners' prior credentials as a Phillip Morris executive to forge documents and add authenticity to the scheme. They also included stringent confidentiality agreements stipulating that because of the sensitivity of the project, banks were to deal only with Reiners and to never contact Phillip Morris directly.
Ruffo tried to avoid suspicion by making timely interest payments on the loans. However, in 1996 a bank executive at the Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan noticed an irregularity on one of the forged documents. After he contacted Phillip Morris and then the FBI, the scheme began to unravel. Reiners was arrested by FBI agents who set up a sting operation on March 19 of 1996, and an arrest warrant was issued for Ruffo two weeks later. All told the scheme generated over 350 million in secured loans, though much of it was squandered in poor stock market speculation and exorbitant spending habits on the part of the conspirators. 21 million, however, was never accounted for by federal authorities. Ruffo faced a 150-count indictment charging him with bank fraud, money laundering, wire fraud, and conspiracy. His bail was set at a usually high 10 million dollars as he was considered a flight risk. As nearly all of Ruffo's known assets and accounts were frozen by the FBI, most of his immediate family put up their homes as collateral to secure his pre-trial release. Ruffo was found guilty on all counts and was sentenced to 17 years in prison.
In November 1998, Ruffo failed to turn himself over to the US Marshal's Service to begin serving his sentence. His image was captured on CCTV cameras taking money out of an ATM (pictured) on the afternoon he was to report, but he has not been seen nor heard from since. In his wife's last communication with him on the morning of his disappearance, he told her he was meeting with a parole officer but never returned. His car was later recovered by the FBI abandoned at JFK Airport. 3 months after Ruffo's disappearance, the homes of his wife, mother, mother-in-law, and others were seized by the government as a forfeiture of bond collateral, effectively making them all homeless. Authorities believe Ruffo still has access to substantial overseas financial resources, which could be aiding him in his ability to stay off-the-grid and assume a new identity. Chief Deputy US Marshall John Bolen commented in 2013, "Having been sentenced to 220 months of incarceration and not serving a single day of that kind of sticks in the craw of those of us in this profession. His actions are a mockery to our justice system. We are the best in the world at this. He just has to make one mistake. We can make many but he just has to make one. We'll catch him". Ruffo remains at large. The US Marshal's Service is offering a $25,000 reward for information that leads to the capture of John Ruffo.