New York AG Alleges 19 Pro-Israel Charities Are Scams
06/28/13
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Their names contained keywords associated with helping Israelis and others in need.

But according to New York's state attorney general, 19 organizatons tied to four individuals were fraudulent set-ups intended to aggressively hoodwink Israel supporters into donations that were mostly used for their own benefit.

In State Supreme Court in Brooklyn Thursday, Eric Schneiderman alleged the four "brazenly abused the generosity of the public” by withdrawing more than $2.5 million raised in donations for personal and family expenses from 2007 to 2013.

The organizations included Hatzalah Rescue of Israel, Magen Israel, Israel Leukemia and Cancer Society, Our Children and Zaka Israel. They were not affiliated with similarly named organizations.

The defendants named in the complaint, which was obtained by The Jewish Week, are Yaakov Weingarten, 52 and his wife, Rivka, 52, and two of his employees, Simon Weiss, 28, and David Yifat, 66.

"Mr. Weingarten took these donations and spent them on himself and his family by converting the charities’ web of bank accounts into his own personal piggy bank," Schneiderman said. "My office has no tolerance for this kind of abuse and we will spare no effort to put a stop to it."

The investigation was prompted by complaints from suspicious people who were contacted for donations. The court action is civil but the AG's office has not ruled out the possibility of seeking criminal charges.

Weingarten’s lawyer, Sheldon Eisenberger, did not respond to a message left by the Times with his receptionist.

Only a small amount of the donated money actually wound up in Israel, the Times reported. The defendants bounced at least 2,100 checks, and wasted $65,000 of charitable donations in overdraft fees, Schneiderman charged. The lawsuit asked the court to close some charities managed by the defendants; it did not immediately address the issue of repayment.

Schneiderman said the defendants spent the money on home mortgages, the remodeling of a second home, car loans, dentist visits, video rentals and a trip to the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City, among other expenses.

The lawsuit accuses the defendants of “preying on a vulnerable public’s charitable instincts, and in particular the charitable impulses that many persons of the Jewish faith have for Israel.”

Among the organizations named in the lawsuit are Bnei Torah, Magen Israel and the Israel Leukemia and Cancer Society. Only 2 of the 19 entities were even registered in Israel, Schneiderman said. The solicitations also used “doctored photographs” of workers and equipment belonging to actual Israeli emergency organizations, the complaint said.

cadam@jewishweek.org

Last Update:

02/06/2014 - 05:07

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You know how to stop all this criminal behavior? STOP giving to any charity. They are all scamming you of your money.

I'm sick of the scammer Israelis becoming the New Nigerian Scammers. Always hungry for people hard earned dollars

Like everyone else who was taken in, I feel violated.
When someone calls for ZAKA-Israel of Hatzolah-Israel I give at least once a year.
And to feel that my hard-earned money went to "frum" ganovim is so painful!

Whatever happened to the frummies who were caught up in the E-Rate scandal written up on this blog a few months ago? I actually called my Congressman's office to complain about this fraud against the taxpayers and never heard back from the Congressional liason in the local office. I called a couple of months later and no one returned my phone call. There appears to be a lot of fraud and abuse going on in the frummie community and it has been well documented on the web site failedmessiah.com and elsewhere. More frummies need to go to jail, but so far, they generally fly under the radar. Welfare abuse is certainly not the exclusive province of the mythical Ronald Reagan welfare queen.

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