Local and federal authorities broke up an identify theft ring that turned out to be an inside job made up of Saks Fifth Avenue employees who allegedly stole customer information and used it to buy $400,000 worth of designer bags and shoes that were resold on the black market.
Operating out of Sak’s flagship midtown store, accused ringleader Tamara Williams collected the information of some 50 customers and then distributed that to four sales associates, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said Monday.
Williams then directed her ring to purchase luxury goods from brands such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, and Christian Louboutin that she “pre-selected.”
In some cases, Williams’ alleged accomplices were “instructed” to then return the ill-gotten items in exchange for gift cards which they then resold.
Eventually Sakes Fifth Avenue security realized what was taking place and alerted authorities. The ring, which began operation in April, was rounded up in recent days with the assistance of the Secret Service and Homeland Security investigators, District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said.
“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.”
Williams, of Queens, was charged with identity theft, scheming to defraud, grand larceny criminal possession of stolen property, and other charges.
Her alleged accomplices were doled out similar charges and were identified as: Kriss Rockson, 46, of Queens; Jason Chance, 25, of Valley Stream, L.I.; Alaia Harrison, 21, of Queens: and Michael Knight-Williams, 44, of Queens.
Vance admitted he was also 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 the case of Vance’s identity theft he said, “the store figured out what was going on and alerted him before any damage was done.”