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Rip-Off Alert: Little thefts added up for global scammers

Reported by: Marie Mortera
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Updated: 6/04/2013 10:26 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV -- There are new details in a multimillion-dollar fraud involving tens of thousands of victims across the globe. In this Rip-Off Alert, we have ways for you to avoid falling prey to a similar crime.

Robert Saks is behind bars for orchestrating an international bank fraud scheme that stole $34 million. At the heart of the scam was a lead list that included bank customer names and account information.

"They were using the list to charge and withdraw amounts from the consumers' bank account without their knowledge,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Daniel Forrester.

Postal inspectors determined Saks and many others withdrew funds from more than 100,000 accounts -- mostly small amounts to avoid suspicion.

"The maximum amount we found was $299,” Forrester said. “But, there were smaller amounts, some less than $100 - $59 and a person may not have challenged them."

Unlocking the case required an extensive accounting review.

"We examined hundreds of bank account records, and we were able to piece together the elaborate conspiracy that it was,” Forrester said.

As inspectors prepared for trial, they created a chart laying out the case. In all, 17 people were charged.

"The ‘lay of the land’ main principle, the people they worked under, how many accounts were involved and the flow of money,” Forrester said.

Inspectors say always check your bank account. In this case, many consumers got money back.

"Consumers could challenge the charge, and if they can't verify it, they will reverse it,” Forrester said. “Consumer law says you have 60 days to challenge a claim."

Saks is currently serving a 17-year prison sentence. The other co-conspirators pleaded guilty for their participation in the conspiracy.

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