Financial Advisor Targeted Clients in $5 Million Ponzi Scheme: DA - NBC New York

Financial Advisor Targeted Clients in $5 Million Ponzi Scheme: DA

Authorities say at least 14 people, mostly seniors, were scammed out of their savings

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    Financial Advisor Targeted Clients in $5 Million Ponzi Scheme: DA
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    Michael Eckstein

    What to Know

    • A financial advisor in Nassau County is facing numerous charges in connection to an alleged Ponzi scheme

    • Matthew Eckstein faces charges of grand larceny and scheme to defraud

    • Officials say that 14 people, mostly the elderly, were impacted by the scheme, that scammed more than $5 million

    A financial advisor in Nassau County is facing numerous charges in connection to an alleged Ponzi scheme that mostly scammed elderly clients out of more than $5 million.

    Matthew Eckstein, 48, was arraigned Thursday on charges of grand larceny and scheme to defraud.

    He is due back in court on July 2.

    According to Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, Syosset-based Eckstein convinced an elderly client of his to invest about $385,000 into a company, Conmac Funding.

    Allegedly, Eckstein assured his client that the investment was safe, had no risk and the principal would be returned after a two-year waiting period with an additional four-percent interest.

    Singas says that after waiting for two years, the victim requested the return of the money January 2017, but received a payment of only $26,699 and, it was at that point, that Eckstein allegedly claimed that Conmac Funding was actually an insurance company and her money had to be paid back in installments.

    Officials say that the victim continued to ask for the return of the remaining principal and interest, but Eckstein stopped communicating with her.

    “This unscrupulous financial advisor allegedly betrayed his clients’ trust when he stole their money in a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme and even pilfered hundreds of thousands from the estates of deceased clients,” Singas said in a statement. “The charges are even more egregious because many of the alleged victims were elderly and seeking safe investments for their retirement funds."

    A search warrant executed by local and federal agents in April 2018 at Eckstein’s home office allegedly yielded thousands of pages of financial documents.

    Eckstein started his own business, Sisk Investment Services, Inc. in 2015, which operated from his home, officials say.

    Provided to News 4 New York

    Officials say that instead of investing the money into Conmac, Eckstein is accused of using the money to fund other business enterprises, personal purchases and paying other victims of the scheme.

    The investigation also revealed that Eckstein allegedly committed estate fraud while acting as the executor of the estates of two deceased clients, stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    In one instance Eckstein allegedly recuperated some unclaimed funds from the NYS Comptroller’s Office and used the money to pay off debts instead of forwarding it to the decedent’s heirs, officials say.

    In another instance the decedent wanted her money distributed to charity, but Eckstein allegedly deposited over $100,000 of those funds into an account where he had signatory powers and used the money to pay debts to his clients, according to officials.

    The investigation determined that 14 victims were allegedly scammed out of a total of more than $5,000,000 by Eckstein and that many of the victims are senior citizens who trusted the defendant with their retirement savings.

    The alleged victims are from Massapequa, Seaford, Smithtown, Melville, Staten Island, Brooklyn and Manhattan. There are also victims from Norwalk, Connecticut, Jupiter, Florida and Redlands, California.

    Officials say the alleged victims were Eckstein’s clients at his Garden City-based investment firm or were referred to him by friends or family.

    Eckstein allegedly used some of the stolen funds for the down payment on his Oyster Bay Cove home, which has a swimming pool and tennis court.

    If Eckstein is convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.

    Eckstein’s attorney, Dennis Lemke, said his client entered a plea of not guilty.

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