Ringleader of Saks ID theft scheme pleads guilty

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 06, 2016 7:08 PM

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The ringleader of a scheme in which four former Saks Fifth Avenue employees used stolen customer data to buy $430,000 of luxury goods from the retailer's flagship Manhattan store, with plans to resell them on the black market, has pleaded guilty, prosecutors said.

Tamara Williams, 38, of Queens, pleaded guilty to grand larceny, identity theft and scheming to defraud, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance said on Wednesday.

Three other former Saks employees, as well as an additional defendant recruited as a "shopper" to impersonate Saks cardholders, previously pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison or jail, Vance said.

A lawyer for Williams declined to comment.

Vance said that from April to August 2014, Williams provided personal information, including Social Security numbers and birth dates, about more than 20 Saks cardholders to her co-workers, who then bought goods she pre-selected.

The district attorney said the ring was responsible for 91 transactions in which shoes, bags and other items from brands such as Chanel, Christian Louboutin, Ferragamo, Kate Spade and Louis Vuitton were purchased.

In some cases, the employees provided these goods to three shoppers who Williams recruited to aid the scheme, including the black market sales, Vance said.

The cases against two of the three shoppers remains open, Vance said.

Saks is owned by Canada's Hudson's Bay Co. Neither Saks nor its parent was accused of wrongdoing.

The case is New York v. Williams, New York State Supreme Court, New York County, No. 4196-2014.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Andrew Hay)