Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the sentencing of ELICE RIZZO, 52, to 5-to-10 years in state prison, and VAL RUIZ, 57, to 1 ½-to-4 years in state prison for stealing more than $50,000 from bank customers by impersonating them and withdrawing money from their accounts. Earlier this year, RIZZO pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to one count of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree and 18 counts of Identity Theft in the First and Second Degrees. RUIZ previously pleaded guilty to two counts of Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, three counts of Identity Theft in the First Degree, and one count of Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree.
“Though cybercrime is often an integral part of modern-day identity theft, this old-school scheme represents the heart of each and every identity theft case: impersonation and fraud,” said District Attorney Vance. “These scammers convinced numerous bank tellers that they were card-carrying customers, stealing both victims’ identities and their hard-earned money. Monitoring your bank accounts is crucial to your financial security. Here, a sharp-eyed victim caught the fraud and alerted my Office, as we encourage any victim of identity theft to do by calling our Cybercrime Hotline at (212) 335-9600.”
According to court documents and the defendants’ guilty pleas, from February 2013 through May 2014, RIZZO and RUIZ stole more than $50,000 from 12 Chase Bank customers by withdrawing cash from their accounts at multiple branches. The defendants used stolen driver’s licenses and other personal identifying information to impersonate the bank customers and withdraw money from their accounts. In each instance, RIZZO, acting alone or with the help of RUIZ, withdrew cash in sums ranging from approximately $750 to $4,800. Upon further investigation, including a search of the defendants’ home and car, RIZZO and RUIZ were discovered to have committed more extensive fraud of additional bank accounts held by two of the victims. The investigation also revealed the defendants had stolen from four new victims’ Chase Bank, Citibank, and TD Bank accounts, with thefts as recent as May 7, 2014 – the day before the defendants were arrested.
Assistant District Attorney Alexandra Lane handled the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Brenda Fischer, Chief of the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, and Executive Assistant District Attorney David Szuchman, Chief of the Investigation Division. Rackets Investigators Erin Mulderig and Mariangela Perrotta, Senior Rackets Investigators Richard Breece, Jr., and Reginald Barometre, Supervising Rackets Investigator Robert Muldoon, and Assistant Chief Rackets Investigator Michael Wigdor assisted with the case.
ELICE RIZZO, D.O.B. 2/18/1962
• Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a class C felony, 1 count
• Identity Theft in the First Degree, a class D felony, 14 counts
• Identity Theft in the Second Degree, a class E felony, 4 counts
• 5-to-10 years in state prison
VAL RUIZ, D.O.B. 4/2/1957
• Grand Larceny in the Third Degree, a class D felony, 2 counts
• Identity Theft in the First Degree, a class D felony, 3 counts
• Scheme to Defraud in the First Degree, a class E felony, 1 count
• 1 ½-to-4 years in state prison