The $82 million check-kiting scheme Staten Island deli magnate Saquib Khan allegedly undertook during the weeks after Hurricane Sandy was so audacious that Frank Abagnale, the notorious fraudster whose life inspired Catch Me If You Can, told the New York Times, “it blows my mind.” But there’s a good chance you haven’t heard of him, as his story only garnered cursory reports in the New York Daily News and the Associated Press. Nobody really told Khan’s story until the Times’ Friday feature on the downfall of the “deli king.”
The story is amazing for the sheer scale of the alleged fraud, and the old-fashioned methodology it involved. Khan allegedly wrote checks to himself and cashed them at banks around town, moving the money to other accounts before the checks bounced. It’s a scheme he could have pulled decades ago. Amazingly, Kahn’s lawyer “said Mr. Khan blew the whistle on himself, alerting the banks that he had withdrawn far more than was in his accounts and planned to pay it back.” If he had turned the millions of dollars into cash, put it in a suitcase, and skipped the country instead, well, we’d probably have read a lot more about him by now.