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Ardsley banker stole $535,000 from 14 elderly clients, prosecutors say

William Saffian, 29, of Yonkers, was arrested Jan.

William Saffian, 29, of Yonkers, was arrested Jan. 10 by the Westchester County District Attorney's office for allegedly stealing more than $500,000 from customers at an Ardsley bank where he worked. Photo Credit: Westchester County District Attorney's Office

A Wells Fargo personal banker in Ardsley ripped off $535,000 from 14 of the bank's elderly clients, setting up accounts for his own use, prosecutors said.

William Saffian, 29, was arrested Thursday by investigators with Westchester District Attorney Janet DiFiore's office, authorities said.

Wells Fargo's security team caught on to Saffian's complex financial fraud last February and notified DiFiore's office, officials said.

DiFiore brought in agents with the U.S. Postal Service and the Secret Service to help in the investigation.

Investigators said Saffian, who worked at the Wells Fargo branch on Saw Mill River Road in Ardsley from Aug. 23, 2010, to Jan. 10, 2012, created joint accounts between two customers who were not connected to each other.

That allowed him to systematically set up dozens of transfers from the 14 elderly clients -- most of whom were over the age of 80 -- to the illegally created account. From there, Saffian allegedly made illegal withdrawals and used the money for himself.

"This defendant carefully targeted his victims, preying on the elderly and those who were not paying close attention to their bank account balances," DiFiore said. "His almost daily electronic transfers of thousands of dollars should be a reminder to all of us to monitor our accounts and remain vigilant."

To cover himself, Saffian created false addresses for the victims where the bank statements were sent, investigators said.

Saffian, of Warburton Avenue, Yonkers, was arraigned Thursday in Ardsley Village Court and sent to the Westchester County Jail where he is being held. No bail has been set.

Saffian's father said the family was upset by the charges.

"This is all fabricated nothing," Gabriel Saffian said. "It's a total fabricated lie from the devil. It's positively unequivocally not true."

Saffian's lawyer, James Culleton of White Plains, declined to comment on the charges. He said he would be in Westchester County Court Monday to make a bail application for Saffian.

The branch manager at the Wells Fargo Bank in Ardsley declined to comment.

Investigators said that Saffian went so far as to impersonate customers over the phone and on the Internet through online banking to facilitate the scheme. He set up the online banking access as well as ATM cards without the victims' knowledge. He also made withdrawals at bank branches in the names of his victims without their knowledge, investigators said.

Saffian was charged with one count of second-degree grand larceny, three counts of second-degree forgery, three counts of first-degree falsifying business records, and one count of first-degree scheme to defraud, all felonies. If convicted of the most serious charges, he faces up to 15 years in prison.

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