MANHATTAN U.S. ATTORNEY ANNOUNCES EXTRADITION OF FOUR ISRAELI DEFENDANTS CHARGED IN MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR PHONY “LOTTERY PRIZE” SCHEMES
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday January 4, 2012
Schemes Targeted Hundreds of Elderly Victims in the United States
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that four defendants have been extradited from Israel on charges relating to their participation in multiple lottery telemarketing fraud schemes. The schemes targeted elderly victims in the United States and netted the defendants millions of dollars in profits. AVI AYACHE, YARON BAR, and IAN KAYE were arrested in Israel in July 2009 and indicted with eight others in U.S. v. Avi Ayache et al. SHAI KADOSH, who was indicted with nine others in September 2008 in U.S. v. Guy Mayo et al., had been a fugitive until his December 2011 arrest in Israel. The four defendants, who are all residents of Israel, arrived in the Southern District of New York late yesterday. AYACHE, BAR and KAYE were presented in Magistrate Court earlier today, and KADOSH was presented before U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “From thousands of miles away, these defendants, along with their co-conspirators, allegedly preyed upon some of the most vulnerable, elderly victims. Their appearances in court today should make clear that we will reach out as far as necessary, and persist as long as it takes, to bring foreign defendants before the bar of American justice.”
According to the Indictments and other court documents previously filed in Manhattan federal court:
AYACHE, BAR, KAYE, KADOSH and their co-conspirators allegedly operated phony “lottery prize” schemes out of numerous boiler rooms in Israel. The schemes targeted hundreds of victims, mostly elderly, throughout the United States. To identify potential victims, the defendants purchased from list brokers the names and contact information of U.S. residents who subscribed to sweepstakes lotteries. They then contacted the victims and solicited information about their finances by falsely telling them they had won a substantial cash prize that they would receive as soon as they paid the necessary fees and taxes. In reality, there was no lottery prize. Collectively, the American victims in these lottery fraud schemes lost approximately $25 million.
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AYACHE, BAR, KAYE, and KADOSH are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud through telemarketing, which carries a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison. In addition, AYACHE, BAR, and KADOSH are each charged with two substantive counts of wire fraud through telemarketing, each of which carry a maximum potential penalty of 30 years in prison. AYACHE and BAR are also charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering, which carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison.
U.S. v. Avi Ayache, et al. is assigned to U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones. Of the original 11 defendants charged in the case, six defendants – Gillian Rosenberg, Toshin Charles Samuels, Oshrat Portolyoni, Naor Green, Yulia Rayz and Limor Cohen – have pled guilty. Rayz and Green have each been sentenced to 40 months in prison, and the rest of the defendants are awaiting sentencing. Two defendants, Michelle Yuval and Limor Cohen, are awaiting extradition. Matthew Getto, the leader of the telemarketing scheme, was charged in a separate Indictment. He was convicted after a bench trial and sentenced in March 2011 to 150 months in prison.
U.S. v. Guy Mayo, et al. is assigned to Judge Kaplan. Of the original 10 defendants, seven pled guilty and were sentenced in June 2011: Guy Mayo received 108 months in prison; Elad Mayo received 78 months in prison; Asi Almakias received 72 months in prison; Lior Orgad received 60 months in prison; Mor Galanti received 37 months in prison; Yaniv Kalbers received 46 months in prison; and David Yamin received 33 months in prison. Two defendants, Moran Goldfarb and Orelya Belahsan, have pled guilty and are awaiting sentencing.
Mr. Bharara praised the investigative work of the FBI and the Tel Aviv Fraud Division of the Israel National Police for their exceptional work in investigating this case. He also thanked the Office of International Affairs, the United States Department of Justice Criminal Division; 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 and for their outstanding work and commitment to extraditing the defendants from Israel.
This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Organized Crime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Avi Weitzman, Steve C. Lee, and Peter Skinner are in charge of the prosecution. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Lockard is in charge of the forfeiture aspects of the case.
The charges against the defendants are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.