Monday, January 17, 2011
FBI investigating as NYC-area synagogues scammed out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in checks
The feds are expanding an investigation into who swiped hundreds of thousands of dollars from area synangogues, Assemlyman Dov Hikind said Monday.
Checks ranging in size from $5 to $18,000 were reported stolen from temples in Brooklyn, Queens, New Jersey and Michigan.
"This is as low as you can get, stealing from charities," the Brooklyn politician said. "When money is involved, you always have unscrupulous people."
Hikind said he gave information to the FBI last month after receiving reports that at least 34 checks had been ripped off from synagogues in three states.
"I want to get to the bottom of this," said Naftali Horowitz, 30, director of the Bostoner Shul in Flatbush. "I want to find out who had access to my office."
Horowitz reported that an envelope containing five checks totaling $5,000 was stolen from his office.
"I am frustrated," he said.
An FBI spokesman could not be reached for comment.
Hikind said the stolen checks were deposited into check-cashing accounts as far-flung as Israel before being transferred into banks not afficliated with the synagogues.
"They have no fear of God," said Alan Hirsch, 57, of the B'nai Israel congregation in Flatbush. "Why would someone steal from a synagogue?"
Hirsch said he brought the thefts to Hikind's attention after he wrote about the missing funds in his Jewish newsletter, "The Vues," and heard from other victims.
Hikind said he has received copies of $385,000 in cashed checks, which had stamps from check-chasing places on the back.