WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKBN) – The U.S. Marshals Service says a lot has changed since John Ruffo slipped through their hands over two decades ago.
Ruffo was convicted in 1998 in one of the country’s largest bank fraud scams, totally about $350 million. Approximately $13 million of that money was never recovered.
“He slipped away nearly 22 years ago, but the world is a lot smaller today than when Ruffo fled,” said U.S. Marshals Service Director Donald Washington.
He was supposed to report to a New Jersey prison on Nov. 9, 1998, to serve a 17-year sentence but never showed up. On that same day, investigators say Ruffo rented a car in Manhattan, withdrew money from an ATM and parked that car in a lot at JFK airport.
Surveillance images from an ATM is the last confirmed sighting of Ruffo.
“While it remains possible that he is in the United States, we strongly believe that John Ruffo is living overseas, likely in Europe, the Caribbean, or Central or South America. It only takes one tip for us to catch up with Ruffo. By now, he is likely well established and comfortable in whatever alias he is living under. He could be anywhere on the globe,” Washington said.
Ruffo is known to have far-reaching business contacts and has international connections. He is computer savvy, enjoys fine wines, gambling and nice hotels. He is also lactose intolerant, investigators say.
“The public is by far our greatest resource,” said Nick Proffitt, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Virginia. “We are asking for your assistance to get this fugitive’s photo out there so we can bring him in together. He has been on our 15 Most Wanted list for 20 years, and it is time for John Ruffo to pay his debt to society.”
A reward of up to $25,000 is offered for information leading directly to Ruffo’s arrest. Anyone with information is urged to 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.