June 25, 2021
A Middlesex County, New Jersey, man was indicted today for his role in a scheme to defraud banks of more than $1 million using stolen and counterfeited checks and stolen identities, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.
Benjamin Rich, 37, of Edison, New Jersey, is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. Rich and two other men, Felix Alamo and Frank Ambrosio, both of Brooklyn, New York, were previously charged by complaint with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Rich, Alamo, and certain conspirators agreed to defraud banks across New Jersey by using the stolen personal identification information of other individuals to open fraudulent bank accounts and deposit stolen and counterfeited checks. Rich used stolen identities, which included Social Security numbers belonging to minors, to create sham businesses. Rich, Alamo, and others opened bank accounts for the sham businesses and deposited stolen or counterfeited checks into the accounts and attempted to withdraw or transfer the funds before the banks could detect the fraud. Rich and his conspirators deposited approximately $1 million in fraudulently obtained checks into the fraudulent business bank accounts, resulting in at least $250,000 in losses to the various banks.
The charge of bank fraud carries a maximum of 30 years in prison and a statutory maximum fine $1 million, or twice the gain derived or loss loss caused by the offense, whichever is greatest.
The charge of aggravated identity theft carries a statutory minimum term of two years in prison, which must run consecutively to any term of imprisonment imposed on the bank fraud charge, and a statutory maximum fine of $250,000, or twice the gain derived or loss caused by the offense, whichever is greatest.
Alamo previously pleaded guilty and will be sentenced on July 21, 2021.
Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig credited postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Acting Inspector in Charge Rodney Hopkins, and special agents of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Andrew McKay, with the investigation leading to today’s indictment.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Perry Farhat of the Government Fraud Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Newark.
The charges and allegations against Rich and Ambrosio are merely accusations, and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Defense counsel: Mitchell Elman Esq., Garden City, New York