Proptech entrepreneur Ari Teman is facing Federal bank fraud charges after he was arrested earlier this month for allegedly cashing hundreds of thousands of dollars of counterfeit checks from companies that had worked with his virtual doorman business.
Teman – creator of the GateGuard virtual doorman and SubletSpy, a company that helps landlords search for illegal Airbnb listings – is accused of depositing 27 counterfeited checks totaling $297,000 at a bank branch in South Florida, according to court records.
Since the bank where Teman allegedly deposited the phony checks is backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the charges fall under the jurisdiction of federal prosecutors. Teman faces a fine of up to $1 million and as many as 30 years in prison.
According to the charges filed in New York’s Southern District court, an investigation by the New York City Police Department uncovered that Teman allegedly deposited the counterfeit checks into a GateGuard account in April at a bank branch inside the Lincoln Road Mall in Miami Beach. Teman later allegedly transferred $225,000 to another account.
Authorities arrested Teman in Florida earlier this month and he posted $25,000 bail.
In a statement to The Real Deal, Teman said he did “not commit any crime and there were no counterfeit checks.” Teman claimed that GateGuard was owed money by “notorious” landlords who made “false accusations and used fraudulent chargebacks” on “remotely created checks (RCCs, aka ‘pre-approved drafts’) which they had authorized prior to the transactions — the same terms of service agreed to by hundreds of other satisfied customers.” Teman said he has evidence his company is not the only victim and that it is common for the landlords to use such tactics to avoid paying vendors.
“It is unfortunate that they went to the extreme of lodging false accusations to avoid paying their bills, and we are confident that when the evidence is brought out this will be understood for what it is: a meritless accusation,” he said.
Teman, 37, is a comedian in addition to being an entrepreneur. He gained notoriety in 2014 when rented out his Seventh Avenue studio apartment on Airbnb to discover that an orgy had taken place in his home.
Editor’s note: Teman’s statement was added to this article at 6:55 p.m. on Tuesday, July 23.