A New York man was sentenced for his role in a $12 million Ponzi scheme that targeted nearly 50 victims from throughout the region and the nation between 2015 and 2017.
Long Island resident Matthew Eckstein, age 52, of Syosset, was sentenced on Monday, July 11 to three-and-a-half to 10-and-a-half years in prison.
Eckstein originally pleaded guilty to the charges on September 26, 2019, but later withdrew his plea. A new indictment was secured in August 2020, but court closures related to the COVID-19 pandemic further delayed the case.
“This defendant preyed upon seniors and hard-working men and women, duping them out of their retirement savings and other finances, and using the money to fund business ventures and pay for his own personal expenses,” Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly said.
The victims were from Massapequa, Seaford, Glen Cove, Oyster Bay, Plainview, Woodmere, Wantagh, Hewlett Harbor, Woodbury, Hicksville, Merrick, Oceanside, Smithtown, Melville, Dix Hills, Farmingdale, Miller Place, Staten Island, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Westchester, Norwalk, CT, Jupiter, FL, Redlands, CA, South Carolina, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.
Donnelly said that:
- Beginning in January 2015, an elderly victim for whom Eckstein worked as a personal accountant and financial advisor, agreed to invest approximately $385,000 into a Hicksville-based company owned by co-defendant Kevin Brody, a resident of Pennsylvania, Conmac Funding Corp., at Eckstein’s urging.
- At that time, Eckstein, who was a registered CPA, 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, like a certificate of deposit.
- After waiting for two years, the victim requested the return of the money in January 2017 but received a payment of only $26,699. At that time, Eckstein claimed that Conmac Funding was an insurance company, and the victim’s money had to be paid back in installments. The victim continued to ask for the return of the remaining principal and interest, but Eckstein stopped communicating with her.
- A Nassau County DA investigation began in November 2017 after the elderly victim reported the incident to officials. A search warrant executed by NCDA investigators, the US Postal Inspection Service, FBI, and the New York State Comptroller’s Office at Eckstein’s home office in April 2018 yielded thousands of pages of financial documents.
- Eckstein and Brody were ultimately revealed to have victimized nearly 50 individuals and had scammed them out of a total of $12 million. Many of the victims were senior citizens who trusted the defendants with their retirement savings.
- Eckstein and Brody provided victims with a username and password for www.conmacfunding.com to view their account statement and growing account balance, leading victims to believe that their principal investment was with Conmac Funding and earning interest.
- However, instead of investing the money into Conmac Funding, the defendants used it to fund other business enterprises – including hamburger restaurants – personal purchases, and paying other victims of the scheme.
- Additionally, Eckstein used some of the stolen funds for the down payment on his home, which had a swimming pool and tennis court.
Eckstein and Brody were arrested in September 2018.
Brody was previously sentenced in September 2019, to two-and-one-third to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree grand larceny and fourth-degree conspiracy.
Many of the victims were lured into the scheme by Eckstein who owned another firm called Sisk Investment Services that he ran out of his Syosset home. He convinced his existing clients, who trusted him, to invest in Conmac Funding.
NCDA’s Civil Forfeiture Bureau was able to freeze all of Eckstein and Brody’s known assets while their cases were pending, including bank accounts and real estate properties, which allowed the office to distribute more than $5.6 million in restitution to the victims following the prosecutions.
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