Benjamin Rich, 40, of Edison, New Jersey, and Frank Ambrosio, 35, and Felix Alamo, 59, both of Brooklyn, are each charged by complaint with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft. Rich and Alamo are scheduled to appear today by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III. Ambrosio remains at large.
According to the documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Rich, Ambrosio, and Alamo, and others, allegedly conspired to defraud banks across New Jersey, and elsewhere, by using the personal identification information (PII) of victims to open fraudulent bank accounts in order to deposit fraudulently obtained checks. Rich would obtain checks that were either stolen or counterfeited. He would then create sham businesses with names closely resembling those of the payees appearing on the stolen or counterfeited checks. For example, if defendant Rich obtained a check made payable to “ABC Corp.,” he would create a sham business called “ABC LLC.” Rich would later provide Ambrosio, Alamo, and other conspirators, with fraudulent identification documents bearing their photographs and the victims’ PII and business opening documents in order to open the fraudulent bank accounts for the sham businesses. The conspirators would deposit the fraudulently obtained or counterfeited checks into those fraudulent bank accounts and then withdraw the funds before anyone could detect the fraud.
The charge of bank fraud carries a maximum of 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million, or twice the gain derived or loss caused by the offense, whichever is greater. The charge of aggravated identity theft carries a statutory minimum term of imprisonment of two years in prison, which must run consecutively to any other term of imprisonment imposed, and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gain derived or loss caused by the offense.
U.S. Attorney Carpenito credited postal inspectors of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, under the direction of Inspector in Charge James Buthorn, with the investigation leading to today’s charges.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Perry Farhat of the Government Frauds Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division in Newark.
The charges and allegations in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.