Real estate scammers target Orthodox Jews

August 12, 2010 02:00PM

Two men have been charged with fraud in an alleged $200 million real estate scheme that targeted Orthodox Jews in four states and overseas, the Wall Street Journal reported. Vladimir Siforov of New York and Eliyahu Weinstein of New Jersey are expected to appear in federal court in Newark later today. Weinstein, a real estate investor, allegedly exploited the social and business customs of the Orthodox Jewish community to carry out the scheme, according to the criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Newark. Weinstein allegedly used some of his victims’ money to amass a substantial collection of art, jewelry and Judaica, worth a total of about $6.2 million. Prosecutors allege that Weinstein used his contacts in the Jewish community to meet potential investors, claiming that he had another party lined up to buy or rent the property, but the buyers were actually other members of the scheme. When investors tried to collect their earnings, Weinstein allegedly ignored them, made promises to pay or paid a smaller amount. Weinstein also maintained multiple passports so “if I want to run away, I can,” he told one investor, the complaint says. [WSJ]