Bank Employee Charged with Stealing Federal Benefits Intended for Deceased Customer

Dec 15, 2023

From the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. – An employee of an Essex County, New Jersey, bank was charged with fraudulently withdrawing federal retirement benefits from the account of a former customer who had died, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced today.

Jorge Nova, 35, of Passaic, New Jersey, is charged by indictment with one count of wire fraud. He appeared today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael A. Hammer and was on $100,000 unsecured bond.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

In 2014, Nova was an employee at a commercial bank in Nutley, New Jersey, where a customer received Social Security Administration (SSA) retirement benefits via direct deposit. The Social Security Administration was not notified of the beneficiary’s death and continued to deposit retirement benefits into the beneficiary’s bank account for more than four years, until October 2018. Nova fraudulently obtained funds from the beneficiary’s account by causing debit cards to be issued to himself in the beneficiary’s name, which he then used to drain the retirement benefits from the beneficiary’s bank account. Nova also registered new accounts with a money service provider in the name of the deceased beneficiary and withdrew money from a second bank account held in the beneficiary’s name. Nova fraudulently obtained more than $105,000 intended for the deceased beneficiary. 

The count of wire fraud is punishable by a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison and a maximum $1 million fine.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents of the Social Security Administration, Office of the Inspector General, New York Field Division, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Sharon MacDermott, with the investigation leading to the charges.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachelle M. Navarro of the Organized Crimes and Gang Unit in Newark.

The charges and allegations contained in the indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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