Tips from alert viewers of CNBC's series "American Greed: The Fugitives" led to the capture of an FBI "most wanted" white-collar criminal, according to law enforcement sources.
On Nov. 26, the agency arrested fugitive David Kaup at his Las Vegas residence. Kaup confessed to defrauding more than 50 families of over $11 million in bogus mortgage refinance scams, according to the FBI. He has been on the lam since Dec. 17, 2012, when he failed to appear for sentencing in Los Angeles.
Many of his victims were working-class families trying to refinance their homes. Kaup admitted to running three different frauds, chronicled in the Nov. 14 airing of "American Greed."
"We got a tip from somebody that saw the show," says James Bowman, assistant U.S. attorney for California's central district. "They let us know he was in Las Vegas and using a different name. Based on that, we were able to figure out where he was."
FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said the agency received more than one tip.
Agents did not rush in and arrest the person they believed was Kaup. They put the house—in central Las Vegas, where he was living with a roommate—under surveillance. The team eventually moved in and arrested Kaup without incident, Eimiller said.
One victim, Bill Armstrong, set up a website to warn others against Kaup. After the show on Kaup aired, Armstrong said, the site got hundreds of hits, including tips that he passed along to the FBI.
Armstrong told "American Greed: The Fugitives," "We work hard for our money. And when someone just comes along and like a parasite … sucks it out of you, you'll do anything you can to go after that person."
Bowman said, "There are families that had to move out of their homes, take their kids out of school, who are uprooted because of what Mr. Kaup did."
Kaup was taken to an initial appearance before a magistrate in Las Vegas after his arrest. According to Bowman, Kaup is being transferred to Los Angeles, where he will appear before the same judge he skipped out on last year, Judge Margaret Morrow.
She will sentence him for his original crimes, said Bowman, and will also decide whether or not there will be additional consequences because Kaup fled.
"I am extremely grateful to CNBC and its show "American Greed: The Fugitives" that it produced on David Kaup," Joseph Hoffman, another victim of Kaup's fraud, wrote in an email to CNBC. "It truly was the 'public awareness' message that we needed to finally capture David."
"We're thrilled the FBI captured David Kaup," said Charles Schaeffer, executive producer of the program. "The goal of 'American Greed: The Fugitives' is to alert the public about these financial fugitives, not for the public to confront them but to provide tips to law enforcement to make these fugitives face justice."
"I hope he gets the maximum sentence," Armstrong said. "I'll be attending his sentencing. He's a serial scammer."
On his website, he now has words stamped across Kaup's picture: "Got Ya David!!"
—By Celia Watson Seupel, Special to CNBC
Watch the episode that led to David Kaup's arrest: "American Greed: The Fugitives #12". Check americangreed.cnbc.com for show times.