Photo: CD Bank
Million-dollar fraud (illustration)
Photo: CD Bank

Israelis suspected of defrauding US elderly

Police believe 10 individuals phoned elderly American citizens from Tel Aviv office to inform them they had won lottery, told them money to be sent on condition of 'tax' payment upfront

The Israel Police have arrested 10 residents of central Israel on suspicion of being involved in a wide-range, worldwide scam known as the "Nigerian sting".


The suspects operated out of offices in Tel Aviv offices and allegedly defrauded elderly American citizens, who had been led to believe they had won the lottery, of millions of dollars.


According to the suspicions, the gang members spent the past two years contacting elderly people in the United States. They would present themselves as representatives of the US lottery's raffles department, informing them they had won a prize consisting of $500,000.


The suspects claimed they were calling from inside the US, when in fact they were operating out of an office in Tel Aviv.


Upon every first call with a new victim, the suspects would explain that a law firm specializing in raffles taxation would be handling the "prize".


After a while the victims would receive a second call from the gang, in which one of the suspects would pretend to be a lawyer. At this point he would explain to them that they must pay a preliminary tax on the sum of $67,000 in order to receive the prize money.


Intricate affair

In several cases the suspects encountered apprehension and resistance on the part of the elderly. But even on these occasions the thieves came up with a sophisticated and devious idea – they would inform their victims of ways to receive loans on easy terms for the purpose of paying the tax. This way they managed to secure millions of dollars.


The police investigation revealed that there are two Tel Aviv offices operating in this manner. On Sunday, searches were conducted in both locations and alleged evidence of the fraud was found.


In addition, in a search conducted in the houses of two suspects police uncovered evidence linking them to the offenses.


Police officials said Monday that this was an intricate affair involving many elements operating sophisticatedly over a long period of time. The 10 suspects were expected to be brought before the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on Monday for a remand hearing.


A similar Israeli network operating in the very same manner was uncovered last September. Members of this gang also conned elderly American citizens, convincing them they had won the lottery.


These gang members are currently in the process of being extradited to the US. Should they be convicted there, the maximum sentence they could face is a 20-year prison term.


פרסום ראשון: 07.06.09, 12:16
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