Ruskin Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Mail Fraud Targeting Elderly Bank Customer

U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven sentenced Benjamin Lara, 39, of Ruskin, to one year and one day in federal prison for mail fraud. The court also ordered Lara to pay $68,086.23 in restitution. Lara entered a guilty plea on November 13, 2023.

Court documents revealed that Lara, while employed as a personal banker at a bank in West Bradenton between March 2016 and July 2017, assisted an 85-year-old bank customer and later exploited the trust to commit fraud. Lara used information obtained through his position to send 31 automatic bill payment checks to his home address in Ruskin from the customer’s accounts. Additionally, Lara electronically transferred funds from the victim’s account onto three pre-paid cards. Over the period between December 2017 and July 2019, Lara stole a total of $68,086 from the victim’s bank account.

The investigation into the case was conducted by the United States Postal Inspection Service, while Assistant United States Attorney Ilyssa M. Spergel handled the prosecution.

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