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Man suspected of conning US Embassy in Israel

Police say suspect's sting operation caused the US embassy a loss of NIS 130,000.

Matan Tzuri
Published: 05.19.14, 13:48 / Israel News

An owner of a company assisting in issuing US visas to Israelis was arrested for allegedly conning the US Embassy as well as his clients. 

 

Two weeks ago, over 700 Israelis that used his company's services reported that during the process there was a double billing on their credit card: the first was via the visa company and the second through the embassy's debt collection company.

 

 

Police suspects that after the clients entered their credit card details in the company's website and paid the listed sum, which included toll and shipping fees, the suspect used their credit card details to make an additional charge via the debt collection company. The owner took his clients' toll fees for himself and didn't pass it on to the embassy.

 

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The clients, who noticed the double charge turned to the credit card company and demanded to cancel one of them. The credit card company cancelled the additional charge as it was obligated to.

 

While the clients received their US visas and the process was completed, the money wasn't transferred to the embassy, because the embassy's collection company was forced to return the money to the clients. This resulted in a loss of some NIS 130,000 to the embassy, police estimated.

 

The suspect, a 40-year-old father of two, was arrested by the police after the US embassy filed a complaint against him. The police also confiscated computers and documents from his house that, according to police, strengthen the suspicions against him.

 

Last weekend, the court extended his remand and on Monday he was brought for an additional remand extension at the Magistrate's Court.

 

The judge who extended the suspect's remand explained her decision: "In light of the numerous instances this is a grand scale affair."

 

Police claim that in August 2013 another complaint was filed against the suspect by the US Embassy Security Department for the same offenses involving 42 Israeli citizens who used his company's services to get a visa.

 

The suspect's attorney, Limor Roth-Rosen, responded to the allegations saying "my client is a normative person without a criminal record who does not pose a public threat."

 

"Clients' double billing is very common, so it is possible that these incidents were merely honest mistakes," Roth-Rosen continued.

 

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