Local Scammers Bilk Holocaust Survivor Fund

Source: Tracy O. via Flickr

We at Sheepshead Bites are always screaming about the need for more diversity in our local markets, but we didn’t expect it from our black markets.

It looks like local scammers have switched up from their usual rings of medicare, daycare, political, medicare and medicare fraud, and have started pillaging one of the most vulnerable segments of society – by stealing from Holocaust survivor funds.

The FBI and Justice Department have brought charges against a ring of 17 thieves for allegedly stealing about $40 million in stipends, reparations and payouts for survivors of the Nazi Holocaust.

According to reports, insiders responsible for verifying applications to the Conference on Jewish Material Claims were given kickbacks to approve fraudulent paperwork submitted by Russian immigrants.

The Conference is responsible for doling out funds on behalf of the German government to survivors. One of the ringleaders, Semen Domnitser, signed off on more than 4,000 applications in question.

NBC reports:

A home along Brighton West 12th Street [sic] in Brooklyn was a center where fake overseas documents were allegedly produced, officials said.
Investigators said the alleged scam has been running since 1994.  When some suspects learned the FBI was investigating, they allegedly offered bribes to witnesses in an attempt to keep them from cooperating.
The FBI said 4,957 bogus claims resulted in $18 million being wrongly taken out of one of the reparation funds.  The Claims Conference lost another $24.5 million as a result of 658 other fraud cases, officials said.
Domnitser was the official responsible for overseeing case files and making sure they were in order.  His approval was needed before any  funds could be released for payment to alleged victims, officials said.

Other caseworkers charged include Valentina Staroseletsky, Polina Berenson, Polina Breyter and Liliya Ukrainsky.