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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 17, 2018

Former New York Bank Branch Manager Pleads Guilty To Multimillion-Dollar Bank Fraud Scheme

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that MOSHE BENENFELD, a/k/a “Michael Benenfeld,” pleaded guilty to bank fraud in connection with hundreds of unauthorized transactions that BENENFELD conducted in bank customer accounts while employed by two different New York-area banks. BENENFELD’s bank fraud scheme resulted in losses totaling more than $5 million.  BENENFELD pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska.  Sentencing is scheduled for April 17, 2019.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said:  “Moshe Benenfeld, a branch manager for two separate New York banks, admitted today to abusing his position of trust by stealing from the banks’ customers.  Benenfeld used his position of access to withdraw and transfer funds from victims’ accounts by falsely authorizing transactions and forging signatures. Today, he has admitted to his crime, which victimized more than 20 individuals and totaled more than five million dollars.”

According to the allegations in the Complaint and the Indictment, to which BENENFELD pleaded guilty:

From 2000 to 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.  BENENFELD made unauthorized draws on, and payments to, the customers’ lines of credit; made unauthorized withdrawals from, and deposits to, the customers’ deposit accounts; and used the customers’ deposit accounts as collateral for other customers’ lines of credit without authorization.  To effect the unauthorized transactions, BENENFELD, among other things, forged the signatures of bank customers and used 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 New York-area 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.

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BENENFELD, 49, of Brooklyn, New York, pleaded guilty to 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.

 

Press Release Number: 
18-444
Updated December 17, 2018