Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 January 2011 08:52 Written by By Simone Weichselbaum and Jose Martinez / Daily News Tuesday, 18 January 2011 08:36
Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) announces findings from an ongoing FBI investigation concerning a massive check fraud scheme going on within the Jewish charitable community.
The feds are expanding an investigation into who swiped hundreds of thousands of dollars from area synagogues, Assemblyman Dov Hikind said Monday.
Checks ranging from $5 to $18,000 were reported stolen from temples in Queens, Brooklyn, New Jersey and Michigan.
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"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.
New Jersey FBI officials, who are spearheading the probe, did not immediately comment.
Hikind said the stolen checks were deposited into check-cashing accounts as far-flung as Israel before being transferred into banks not affiliated 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-cashing places on the back.