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Mount Vernon Man Pleads Guilty To Elaborate Check Fraud Scheme

Published By
U.S. Attorney's Office
Published Date

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Patrick J. Freaney, the Special Agent in Charge of the New York Field Office of the United States Secret Service (“USSS”), and Edward A. Caban, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced that ISHMAEL BENREUBEN pled guilty today to participating in a conspiracy to deposit approximately $760,000 in fraudulent checks into bank accounts across New York, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., and to fraudulently withdrawing approximately $115,000 from those accounts.  BENREUBEN pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “My Office is committed to protecting the integrity of the United States banking system and the United States mail.  The defendant engaged in a scheme to steal three quarters of a million dollars by stealing real checks from the mail, forging the checks, falsifying identities, and taking advantage of multiple financial institutions.  The defendant’s fraudulent scheme affected real people and their businesses.  Today, he has been held accountable for his brazen conduct.”

USSS Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Freaney said: “The defendant committed malicious fraud for his own personal gain.  With today’s guilty plea, he can no longer endanger the community.  This case should serve as a strong deterrent for criminal actors considering taking part in similar fraud schemes.  The U.S. Secret Service and its law enforcement partners will continue to investigate and pursue prosecution of these crimes in order to safeguard our communities.”

NYPD Commissioner Edward A. Caban said: “The charges Mr. Benreuben pled guilty to today are not victimless crimes.  In addition to compromising the integrity of our nation’s mail system, these offenses harm the people whose mail is stolen and the public at large.  The NYPD will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners, including the U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, to always ensure that anyone who steals checks and commits fraud is held fully accountable.”

According to the filings and statements made in Manhattan federal court:

From approximately September 2021 through March 2022, BENREUBEN and others orchestrated an elaborate forgery and fraud scheme.  In furtherance of the scheme, BENREUBEN stole checks from the mail, forged and altered the stolen checks, deposited the checks into bank accounts across New York, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. belonging to 26 co-conspirators, and then rapidly withdrew the funds before the banks could void the checks or shut down the accounts.  The checks ranged in amounts from approximately $5,000 to $42,000 and were drawn from the accounts of real businesses and individuals throughout the Northeast.  In total, BENREUBEN and his co-conspirators deposited approximately $760,000 in fraudulent checks and withdrew approximately $115,000 before the banks shut down the affected accounts.

Upon his arrest, BENREUBEN was found hiding under a couch at a co-conspirator’s home and was in possession of numerous images of the personal identifiable information on individuals’ identification cards, debit cards, and social security cards.     

*                *                *

BENREUBEN, 26, of Mount Vernon, New York, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison; one count of bank fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison; and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory prison term of two years, which must run consecutively to any other prison term.

The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as BENREUBEN’s sentence will be determined by Judge Rakoff.  BENREUBEN is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Rakoff on January 10, 2024, at 4:00 p.m. 

Mr. Williams praised the exceptional investigative work of the USSS and NYPD.

This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amanda C. Weingarten, Diarra M. Guthrie, and Nicholas Folly are in charge of the prosecution.