Phoenix man accused of identity theft, fraud for embezzling from nonprofit

Mar 24, 2022, 3:45 PM
Tefere Rezene (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)...
Tefere Rezene (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)
(Maricopa County Sheriff's Office Photo)

PHOENIX – A Phoenix man accused of embezzling nearly $55,000 from the nonprofit organization he worked for was arrested Tuesday afternoon, authorities said.

Tefere Rezene, 27, was taken into custody in Glendale by the Surprise Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service and booked on multiple felony charges, including identity theft and fraud.

Rezene was a director for Rise Services in Surprise from June 2020 to May 2021, according to court documents. The group, which operates in six states, provides support for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

While working for Rise, Rezene allegedly used the identities of six former Rise employees to funnel money into a bank account he controlled.

“Fraud, embezzlement and identity theft cases can be extremely complex investigations,” Surprise Police Chief Benny Piña said in a press release.

“However, our team of investigative professionals will utilize every tool at their disposal to bring justice to those who have found themselves a victim of crime. Today’s arrest is a testament to that commitment.”

The investigation started after Rise discovered a fraud scheme during a July 2021 payroll audit.

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Phoenix man accused of identity theft, fraud for embezzling from nonprofit