A man who stole $350 million and vanished shortly after may have been spotted at a baseball game 23 years later.
In 1998, John Ruffo initiated one of the most bizarre frauds in the U.S. Teaming up with a former executive from the Phillip Morris tobacco company, the computer salesman from Brooklyn pretended to be working on a way to create smoke-free cigarettes. He claimed that his firm was sourcing computers for the project. As a result, he managed to scam banks and gain a $350 million wealth.
In 1998, a Brooklyn computer salesman was due to report to prison.
He vanished instead.
Since then, U.S. Marshals have hunted the man behind a $350m fraud scheme.
The new season of @ABC's “Have You Seen This Man?” premieres today.
— ABC News (@ABC) August 11, 2021
After Ruffo’s scheme was uncovered, he and his partner were arrested. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison. However, he vanished before he was due to start serving time.
For years no one knew what happened with Ruffo. But in 2016, at a LA Dodgers baseball game, cameras spotted a person who “strongly resembles” the wanted man. As per Unilad, the U.S. Marshals Service is now looking for the “public’s assistance to identify” the attendee.
Ruffo was last seen in 1998 at an ATM in New York.
According to the U.S. Marshals, $13 million of the stolen cash was not recovered.
Take a look at this man. John Ruffo has been on the run since 1998. This photo is how investigators believe he would look today. Could he have been at a game at Dodger Stadium? He was convicted of a $350 million bank fraud scheme and disappeared. The story at 5:30. @USMarshalsHQ pic.twitter.com/KABArUzrfK
— Carlos Granda (@abc7carlos) October 5, 2021
A report by the federal law enforcement agency says:
“In September 2016, USMS investigators in the Eastern District of Virginia received a tip indicating Ruffo had attended a Boston Red Sox/LA Dodgers baseball game on Aug. 5, 2016, and that he was sitting behind home plate approximately four rows up and wearing a blue shirt. A video clip from the game confirms a white balding male with a mustache, wearing a blue shirt, seated several rows behind home plate.”
The report also notes that if the man in the footage was indeed Ruffo, he was “likely using an alias.” Moreover, it gives a description of the wanted man, stating:
“He is known to be computer savvy and enjoys fine wines, gambling, and nice hotels. He is reportedly lactose-intolerant. Ruffo was known to be a storyteller, someone who liked to stretch the truth, and had a desire to impress others. He has been called a master manipulator.”
The hunt for the fraudster has extended worldwide, with “hundreds of leads,” some of which lead to locations, including Aruba and Italy.
Imagine being on the run for years and then getting busted because you decided to go to a baseball game and got great seats
— Hank Scorpio (@WestsideNiner) October 6, 2021
Anyone to provide any information that leads to Ruffo’s arrest will be rewarded up to $25,000, the report highlights. If you have any knowledge of Ruffo’s whereabouts, “contact the nearest USMS District Office, the U.S. Marshals Service Communications Center at 1-800-336-0102, or submit a tip using USMS Tips.”