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Man charged with $50m fraud

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A man is due to appear before a federal judge in Los Angeles today, accused of masterminding what is believed to be the biggest credit card scam in history.

Kenneth Taves, 47, allegedly "earned" $49.4 million last year before concealing it in an offshore bank account in the Cayman Islands.

Federal financial sleuths are still trying to track down a further $23 million believed to be stockpiled elsewhere around the world.

While some of the money was generated from legitimate charges for access to porn sites run by Taves' company, Netfill, how he got the rest of the cash is still a mystery.

The report in the LA Times quotes one officer from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as saying "the extent of the alleged scam was 'off the scales'."

Taves is alleged to have taken the money from as many as 900,000 different credit card accounts.

The LA Times said he possessed a further million credit card numbers.

What's still unclear is how Taves managed to get hold of so many credit card numbers in the first place.

No doubt some would have been skimmed off from people who were prepared to disclose personal details and pay for a bit of nooky online.

It’s thought the rest came from a number-generating application available somewhere on the Net.

What is perhaps more unclear is how the major credit card companies caught up on the scam failed to take any action when so many people complained that about the billing arrangements of one single company.

Taves, who will be accompanied by his wife Teresa at today's hearing, is no stranger to trouble. In 1980 he was charged with murder but escaped with a probationary sentence after a key witness died in a car crash before the case came to trial. ®

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