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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Former Bank Branch Manager Charged In $5 Million Fraud Involving Two New York Area Banks

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Philip R. Bartlett, Inspector in Charge of the New York Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”), announced today the unsealing of a criminal Complaint charging MOSHE BENENFELD, a/k/a “Michael Benenfeld,” with bank fraud, in connection with hundreds of unauthorized transactions BENENFELD conducted in bank customer accounts when employed by two different New York-area banks.  BENENFELD is expected to be presented before U.S. Magistrate Judge Barbara C. Moses today.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said:  “As alleged, Moshe Benenfeld betrayed his position of trust as a bank branch manager to steal account holders’ money.  Thanks to the Postal Inspection Service, Benenfeld is in custody and facing prosecution for his alleged crime.”

Inspector in Charge Bartlett said:  “Mr. Benenfeld exploited the position of trust granted to him by his employer.  He stole from family and friends to enrich himself and others.  Postal Inspectors encourage customers to keep a watchful eye on their money, no matter who it is entrusted to.” 

According to the allegations in the Complaint[1] unsealed today in Manhattan federal court:

Between 2000 and 2016, BENENFELD was the branch manager at a branch of a New York-area bank (“Bank-1”).  Beginning in or about 2004 and continuing into 2016, while employed at Bank-1, BENENFELD conducted hundreds of unauthorized transactions involving the accounts of over 20 bank customers, including the accounts of BENENFELD’s relatives.  Among other things, BENENFELD made unauthorized draws on, and payments to, customers’ lines of credit; made unauthorized withdrawals from, and deposits to, customers’ deposit accounts; and used customers’ deposit accounts as collateral for other customers’ lines of credit, without authorization.  To effect the unauthorized transactions, BENENFELD would, among other things, forge the signatures of bank customers and use a document previously signed by a bank customer to create paperwork that falsely purported to authorize a different transaction.  In or about April 2016, after having discovered BENENFELD’s conduct, Bank-1 terminated BENENFELD’s employment.  In or about June 2016, BENENFELD was hired by another bank (“Bank-2”).  At Bank-2, BENENFELD continued to conduct unauthorized transactions involving customer accounts.  As a result of the unauthorized transactions conducted by BENENFELD, Bank-1 sustained losses of over $5 million.

*                *                *

BENENFELD, 49, of Brooklyn, New York, is charged with one count of bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison.  The maximum potential sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Berman praised the investigative work of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s New York Division.

The case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit.  Assistant United States Attorney Dina McLeod is in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

 

[1]  As the introductory phase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint, and the description of the Complaint set forth herein, constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 
18-166
Updated May 16, 2018