Eleven Arrested in Israel on US CHarges For “Lottery Prize” Scheme Targeting the Elderly

LawFuel.com – Legal Announcement Service –
LEV L. DASSIN, the Acting United States Attorney for
the Southern District of New York, and JOSEPH M. DEMAREST, JR.,
the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the
Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced that AVI
COHEN, IAN KAYE, and AVI PEROV, all residents of Israel, were
arrested today by the Israel National Police (“INP”) pursuant to
a U.S. extradition request on a superseding Indictment filed on
July 16, 2009, in Manhattan federal court. The eleven had been
in custody in Israel since July 5 in connection with an Israeli
investigation. A twelfth defendant, MATTHEW GETTO, was
separately indicted on July 1, 2009, and was arrested by the FBI
on July 4, 2009, at Newark International Airport, while
attempting to return to Israel. As set forth in the Indictments
and the Government’s victim notification motion in the AYACHE

From approximately 2005 through 2009, the defendants
participated in a phony “lottery prize” scheme that targeted
victims, mostly elderly, in the United States. The defendants
identified victims, or “leads,” by purchasing from list brokers
the names and contact information of U.S. residents who
subscribed to sweepstakes lotteries. Then, operating out of
multiple telemarketing boiler rooms run by “Managers,”
“Qualifiers” called the victims and, using a script, falsely told
the victims they had won a substantial cash prize, and asked them
about their assets. If the victim had sufficient assets, the
victim was transferred to a “Shooter,” who purported to be an
attorney in the U.S., and who told the victims that to obtain the
prize, they had to pay several thousands of dollars in fees and
taxes. Lottery names used by the defendants included
“Clearinghouse Sweepstakes” and “Consumer’s Clearinghouse,” and
law firm names used included “Abrahams Kline,” “Bernstein
Schwartz,” “Steiner, Van Allen, and Colt,” “Bloomberg and
Associates,” and “Meyer Stevens.” Aliases and call forwarding
telephone numbers were used to mask the fact that the defendants
were located in Israel. Flowers and gift baskets were also sent
to some victims to “congratulate” them on their purported lottery
winnings. Moreover, victims who sent money to pay the supposed
fees and taxes to claim their prize were typically contacted
again by Shooters and induced to send additional funds, amounting
to tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars. In
reality, there was no lottery prize and the victims were
ultimately bilked out of an estimated total of approximately $25

Each of the twelve defendants is charged with one count
of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud through
telemarketing, which carries a maximum potential penalty of 30
PORTOLYONI, GREEN, RAIZ, and COHEN each are also charged with one
substantive count of mail fraud through telemarketing and one
substantive count of wire fraud through telemarketing. Each of
the substantive counts carries a maximum potential penalty of 30
years in prison.

The investigation into this lottery telemarketing fraud
is being conducted by the FBI in cooperation with the INP. This
investigation follows a coordinated FBI and INP investigation
last year that resulted in the indictment in September 2008 of
ten other Israeli residents for a similar scheme in United States
v. Guy Mayo et al., 08 Cr. 907 (LAK). Extradition of the
defendants in that case remains pending.

Mr. DASSIN praised the investigative work of the FBI
and the Tel Aviv Fraud Division of the Israel National Police.
Mr. DASSIN also expressed his gratitude to the Department of
International Affairs within the Office of the State Attorney in
the Ministry of Justice for the State of Israel, and the Tel Aviv
District Attorney’s Office for their cooperation in the
investigation. Mr. DASSIN also thanked the Department of Justice
Office of International Affairs for its assistance in the
extradition process.

This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Organized
Crime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys AVI WEITZMAN and
STEVE LEE are in charge of the prosecution.

If you believe you were a victim of these crimes,
including a victim entitled to restitution, and you wish to
provide information to law enforcement and/or receive notice of
future developments in the case or additional information, please
contact Wendy Olsen-Clancy, the Victim Witness Coordinator at the
United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New
York, at (866)874-8900, or [email protected] For additional
information, go to: http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/nys/victimwitness.html
on the Internet.

The charges against the defendants are merely
accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and
until proven guilty.
09-224 ###

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