Suspects in court
Photo: Dana Koppel
US demands extradition of suspected Israeli scammers
Group of youngsters arrested two weeks ago suspected of defrauding elderly American citizens out of millions of dollars. Attorneys: State must examine new social phenomenon

The Foreign Relations Division at the State Prosecutor's Office is expected to file a request with the Jerusalem District Court on Thursday for the extradition to the United States of 11 Israelis arrested two weeks ago for suspicion of being involved in a wide-range, worldwide scam known as the "Nigerian sting".


The Prosecutor's Office is also expected to ask that the suspects, all in their 20s, remain in police custody until the end of the legal proceedings.


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, who were arrested about two weeks ago, 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.


Boaz Reuven and Yahel Ben-Oved, the attorneys for three of the suspects, told Ynet, "This is undoubtedly a new social phenomenon, which requires the State to examine why normative youngsters with no criminal record get involved in such work. They could have earned the same amount of money while working at a regular job."


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.


Police are looking into the possibility that the Israelis arrested two weeks ago were associated with those involved in the previous scam.


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