Israel charges four over $10 million fraud scam
TEL AVIV - Israel charged four French immigrants with fraud on Wednesday over a $10 million scam of major companies in which they are accused of posing as representatives of firms including Chanel and Bosch.
The defendants are accused of building "a worldwide network of fraud based in Israel," with apartments, technological equipment and European bank accounts, the justice ministry said.
Prosecutors charge that the defendants pretended to be representatives of France's Bordeaux football club and of the French football league.
They also posed as being from companies including France's Chanel, Germany's Bosch, Italy's Diadora and Sweden's Electrolux while trying to convince firms like Kia Motors France and ICI Paris XL to make payments to fraudulent accounts, according to prosecutors.
The four were based in the Israeli city of Netanya, on the Mediterranean coast near Tel Aviv.
Prosecutors allege that the scam netted 9.1 million euros ($10.4 million).
"The defendants and others built a worldwide network of fraud based in Israel, with rented apartments which were used as 'war rooms' with considerable technological equipment," prosecutors alleged.
"Alongside activity in the country, defendants held numerous bank accounts in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland".
The defendants are accused of using forged documents and fake email addresses to persuade representatives of companies that owed money to suppliers they were impersonating to make transfers to their accounts.
They are also accused of contacting the actual supplier companies and posing as the firms that owed them, telling them that the payments were delayed -- buying time to carry out the scam.
Two Italians were also indicted in a related case, resulting from the suspects allegedly trying to expand their activities into Italy.
The alleged fraud is similar to others that have occurred around the world and which are commonly referred to as the "fake president" scam, so named because criminals have posed as top company executives while carrying them out.
The French defendants indicted were identified as Henri Omisi, Daniel Alon, Jeremy Laloum and Mordechai Lalouch.
The Italians were identified as Enzo Bondi and Isaac Sonnino.