Friday, August 13, 2010

Two New Jersey Men Charged in $200 Million Fraud Targeting Orthodox Jews 

Two New Jersey men were charged for their role in a $200 million Ponzi scheme that targeted Orthodox Jews, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. prosecutors.

Eliyahu Weinstein, 35, was charged with orchestrating a real-estate investment fraud to dupe fellow Orthodox Jews in New Jersey, New York, Florida, California and abroad, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said today in a statement. Vladimir Siforov, 43, also was charged in the scheme.

By using “lies, threats, deliberate misrepresentations and even counterfeit checks,” Weinstein and Siforov “exploited the close community ties of the Orthodox Jewish community for one goal: to steal money through an elaborate real estate and Ponzi scheme,” Michael B. Ward, special agent in charge of the FBI’s office in Newark, New Jersey, said in a statement.

Weinstein, who was arrested at his home in Lakewood, New Jersey, faces as long as 50 years in prison if convicted on charges of bank fraud and wire fraud. He used the investments of victims to “amass a substantial collection of art, jewelry and Judaica,” according to the FBI arrest complaint.

Weinstein appeared today in federal court in Newark, New Jersey, where he was ordered held without bail until a detention hearing set for Aug. 17.

Siforov, of Manalapan, New Jersey, was charged with wire fraud. He remains at large, according to a statement by U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman.

‘Fattening His Wallet’

“Weinstein is charged with offering an array of lucrative investment opportunities that served the single purpose of fattening his wallet,” Fishman said. “It is always offensive when someone steals from others to finance his own luxurious lifestyle, but it is especially galling to exploit a community with whom one shares an inherent trust.”

Weinstein falsely represented that he owned or could buy property and that victims could make “a healthy profit in a short time period,” according to the FBI arrest complaint. He sold his real or fake interest in property multiple times, fraudulently altered checks, drew up phony leases and hid zoning changes from his victims, according to the FBI.

When investors tried to collect their earnings, he ignored them, promised payments that never came, and paid smaller amounts than he owed, according to the complaint.

Weinstein used proceeds of the fraud to amass manuscripts and antique Judaica worth $6.2 million, a jewelry and clock collection that he bought for $7.6 million, and another jewelry and watch collection valued at $6.2 million.

He also charged $1.7 million to an American Express account, according to the complaint.

Weinstein has “‘multiple passports” and told one of his victims “If I want to run away, I can,” according to the FBI.

The case is United States of America v. Weinstein, 10-mj-7115, U.S. District Court, District of New Jersey (Newark).


Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Chaptzem! Blog