Matthew Eckstein sentenced to up to 10-1/2 years in prison; nearly $5.6 million in restitution returned to victims
MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly announced a Syosset man was sentenced today to up to ten-and-a-half years in prison for his role in a $12 million Ponzi scheme that targeted nearly 50 victims – many of them seniors – between 2015 and 2017.
Matthew Eckstein, 52, pleaded guilty on February 8, 2022, before Judge Teresa Corrigan to charges of Grand Larceny in the First Degree (a B felony) and Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree (an E felony). The defendant was sentenced today to 3-1/2 to 10-1/2 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.
The State Comptroller’s Office, United States Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and New York State Attorney General’s Office all assisted in this 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,” said DA Donnelly. “I am grateful to my prosecutors for ensuring that Eckstein pays for his crimes with significant prison time, and to my Civil Forfeiture Bureau, for their diligent work securing nearly $5.6 million in restitution for the victims. I also want to thank all of our partners on the local, state, and federal levels for their great contributions to this investigation and prosecution.”
“Matthew Eckstein brazenly took advantage of people who trusted him to line his own pockets and fund his opulent lifestyle," said State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. "Stealing the savings of senior citizens is unconscionable. I commend the work of District Attorney Donnelly, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Postal Inspection Service and thank them for their continued partnership with my office and diligence in bringing Eckstein to justice."
United States Postal Inspection Service Inspector-in-Charge of the New York Division Daniel B. Brubaker said: “Eckstein made his biggest mistake by using the Postal Service to further his scheme to defraud investors in Conmac Funding Corp. out of millions. Instead of investing his client’s money safely, Eckstein, a registered CPA, used their funds to pay Conmac’s bills and for his own personal interests. He took advantage of investors’ trust in his credentials and stole their life savings. Postal Inspectors and our law enforcement partners will tirelessly pursue anyone who targets investors, especially the elderly, for fraud. Today’s sentencing is solid proof that anyone who defrauds investors will pay a heavy price for their crimes.”
DA 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, 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.
An NCDA investigation commenced in November 2017 after the elderly victim reported the incident to officials. A search warrant executed by NCDA investigators, the U.S. 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 the money 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, of Pennsylvania, was previously sentenced on September 12, 2019, to 2-1/3 to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to Grand Larceny in the Second Degree (a C felony) and Conspiracy in the Fourth Degree.
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.
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.
The NCDA thanks our partners, the State Comptroller’s Office, United States Postal Inspection Service, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and New York State Attorney General’s Office, for their dedication and assistance in the investigation and prosecution of this case.
Deputy Bureau Chief Betty Rodriguez of the Financial Crimes Bureau prosecuted the case and Chief Rebecca Winer of the Civil Forfeiture Bureau managed the asset forfeiture. Dennis Lemke, Esq. represents Eckstein.