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ESCAPING JUSTICE

I spent two years on the run as a ‘most wanted’ fugitive – here’s how I think John Ruffo evaded capture for 23 years

A MISSING salesman on the run for 23 years may have had plastic surgery and removed his fingerprints to evade detection, according to one former fugitive.

Seth Ferranti, who was on the U.S. Marshals’ most wanted list, told The Sun that John Ruffo is probably now living a “settled, normal” life with a new family.

John Ruffo swindled banks out of more than $350million before going on the run. Credit: US Marshalls
Seth Ferranti was on the U.S. Marshals’ most wanted list. Credit: Instagram/Seth Ferranti

Ruffo swindled banks out of more than $350million before becoming one of the FBI’s most-wanted men.

The conman mysteriously disappeared in November 1998 when he was about to start serving a 17-year prison sentence and hasn’t been found.

Ferranti, who spent two years on the run and is behind Netflix show WHITE BOY, said Ruffo has played his escape “like a game of chess.”

He added: “[He was] making moves before everyone else even considered it.”

Ferranti said Ruffo “definitely planned” his disappearance in advance, adding: “He has been several steps ahead of everyone and law enforcement.”

And he said it would be “easy” for Ruffo to assume a new identity, telling The Sun: “Getting a new ID is not that hard. I did it when I was on the run.

“You just become someone else and if you have the paperwork and documents to back it up who will doubt you.”

Ferranti – who will speak at an event in LA next month about his latest documentary, “Psychedelic Revolution: The Secret History of the LSD Trade – said Ruffo is probably now living a “settled, normal” life.

He added: “Ruffo is now probably settled and living a normal life and has in fact became someone else.

“With 350 million he could have had plastic surgery, got his fingerprints removed, opened business, had a family, and no one knows anything about his past. 

“Its very possible to start a new life when you have a different identity and money. He could be married, have kids, and all that.”

Cops, family members, and FBI agents have spent more than two decades searching for Ruffo since his disappearance.

Ruffo’s cousin thought he had spotted the swindler among the crowd at a LA Dodgers game in 2016, but it turned out not to be the fugitive.

The fugitive’s disappearance is the subject of the Hulu series “Have you Seen This Man?” which first aired this week.

Ferranti, who disappeared between 1991 and 1993 after facing nonviolent drug trafficking charges, added: “If you lay low and you have money its pretty easy to stay on the run for that long.

“Its all about having the resources. People get caught because they are desperate, obviously this dude wasn’t desperate.

“He had everything planned out and his plan has worked to perfection.”

Ruffo faced 150 charges of bank fraud, money laundering, wire fraud, and conspiracy.

The FBI considered the New Yorker to be a flight risk as his bail was set at a whopping $10million.

The computer salesman was found guilty on all charges and sentenced to 17 years behind bars.

Ruffo was last seen on November 9, 1998.  He went to court to hand over the electronic tag that he was required to wear.

He also dropped his wife Linda off at a train station – that was the last time they were ever to see each other.

And, that night, CCTV footage captured the conman withdrawing $600 from an ATM in Queens, New York.

He left his rented Ford Taurus in the long-term parking at JFK airport before mysteriously vanishing.

Cops believe that more than $13million of stolen money, which has never been recovered, helped his disappearance.

His wife Linda told NBC that she’s been left with “haunting questions”.

And online sleuths have speculated about the fugitive’s potential whereabouts while he remains at large.

Some claim he may have developed ties to the mafia and potentially moved to ItalyNewsweek revealed.

Ferranti said: “If you have money I would say its easier to go abroad and get away from the US and any possible recognition. 

Other theories include claims that the fugitive has mixed into public life or dead.

Ferranti said: “To go off the radar you just need to lay low and if you have resources its easy to lay low and go somewhere where no one knows you.

“When people have disappeared this long there’s always a chance that he’s dead.

“He’s either very clever and meticulous in covering his tracks or extremely lucky but this show will put a new pressure on him if he is still out there somewhere. 

“This show might finally foil his plans,” Ferranti added.

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