Fraud plot nets $895,000 and jail


Published: Thursday, June 1, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 31, 2006 at 11:13 p.m.
TALLAHASSEE - A man who pleaded guilty to stealing almost $1 million from the state's Bureau of Unclaimed Property was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison.
Michael Bronstein, 37, was sentenced May 25 for participating in an elaborate scheme to file fraudulent claims for unclaimed property through the department, Nina Bannister, a spokeswoman from Florida Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher's office said Wednesday.
The bureau has more than $1 billion in cash and unclaimed property from dormant bank accounts, un-cashed payroll checks and abandoned safe deposit boxes, she said.
Bronstein stole the identity of the rightful owners and filed what the state thought were legitimate claims. Authorities caught on in 2002 when a legitimate owner filed a claim on property that Bronstein had already collected on, Bannister said.
The Department's Office of Fiscal Integrity investigation found Bronstein had made six other fraudulent claims in Florida and made similar attempts in nine other states, the department said.
In total, Bronstein took in $895,000 in unclaimed property and $60,000 from fraudulent credit card transactions, Bannister said.
He had transferred more than half a million dollars to a bank in Ramallah, Bannister said.

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