Hewlett Harbor and Woodmere residents get Ponzi scheme payouts

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Hewlett Harbor and Woodmere residents are part of the Ponzi scheme victims from across Long Island, New York City and several states, including California, who received restitution payouts through the Nassau County District Attorney’s office on Oct. 29, after the prosecutions of Kevin Brody and Matthew Eckstein.

Brody, a businessman from Pennsylvania, and Eckstein, a financial advisor from Syosset, scammed 50 people, a majority of them seniors, out of more than $12 million in a Ponzi scheme. The total payout was $4.6 million and victims received from $10,000 to $300,000 each.

As the cases progressed, the DA’s Asset Forfeiture Bureau froze all Brody and Eckstein’s known assets, including bank accounts and real estate properties, which allowed the DA to make the payouts. The District Attorney’s office is still working on collecting additional funds for restitution for those victims, officials said.

“These thieves took advantage of the trust investors placed in them and scammed their victims — in many cases vulnerable seniors—out of at least $12 million in a massive Ponzi scheme,” District Attorney Madeline Singas said in news release. “I’m grateful to our prosecutors and our partners for holding them accountable and for their diligent work seeking restitution for the victims.”

Eckstein, 49, pleased guilty on Sept. 26 to grand larceny first-degree and conspiracy fourth-degree. He is expected to be sentenced on Dec. 13 to 3-1/3 to 10 years in prison.

Brody, 55, was sentenced to 2-1/3 to seven years in prison on Sept. 12, after pleading guilty to grand larceny second-degree and conspiracy fourth-degree.

Singas said that beginning in January 2015, an elderly victim for whom Eckstein worked as a personal accountant and financial adviser, agreed to invest roughly $385,000 into a Hicksville-based company — Conmac Funding Corp. — owned by Brody, at Eckstein’s urging. At that time, Eckstein, who was a registered certified public accountant, assured his client that the investment was safe, had no risk, and the principal would be returned after a two-year waiting period with 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 then claimed that Conmac Funding was an insurance company, and her 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.

The Nassau DA started an investigation in November 2017 after the elderly victim reported the incident to officials. In April 2018, a search of Eckstein’s home office yielded thousands of pages of financial documents. He was arrested two months later. The DA was then aware of at least 14 people victimized by Eckstein.

Some of the victims thought they were investing in something like a certificate of deposit with a guaranteed interest rate, others were told that the money would be used to finance premium insurance loans. Instead of investing the money into Conmac Funding, the defendants used the money to fund other business enterprises — including hamburger restaurants — personal purchases and paying other victims of the scheme.

Brody and Eckstein also provided the 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.

Eckstein also used some of the stolen funds for the down payment on his home, which has a swimming pool and tennis court. His house is currently in foreclosure and the DA has a lien for any surplus proceeds from a foreclosure sale.

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.