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A federal grand jury returned an indictment yesterday charging nine people in Israel with operating a 'boiler room' telemarketing lottery scam that targeted elderly victims in the United States. The wire and mail fraud conspiracy charges allege that unknowing senior citizens were conned into sending millions of dollars for nonexistent sweepstakes lotteries.
Like the Boiler Room movie, this reportedly four (4) year scam suggests there was a high-pressure operation targeting vulnerable victims.
The indictment alleges a cross-border telemarketing scheme were defendants in Israel bought leads of lottery sweepstakes subscribers, using them as leads to target elder victims in the United States.
According the the charges, defendants who worked as 'qualifiers' called people on the lists, telling them that they had won a large cash prize. After first screening potential victims with questions about their age and financial assets, 'qualified' calls were transfereed to salespeople a/k/a 'shooters,' who claimed to be attorneys at a law firm located in the United States.
Like the Boiler Room movie with Ben Affleck and Vin Diesel, a shooter's job was to close the scam by fraudulently convincing people to send thousands of dollars in 'fees and taxes' before they could claim their sweepstakes prizes. However, "[in reality, there was no cash prize," and the defendants were never part of any legitimate sweepstakes, lottery, business, or law firm.
A Google search suggests that one of the defendants, Oshrat Portaleone, may have worked as a real estate agent in Israel. The link to Portaleone's profile, however, says that no agent is listed.
A formal extradition request for the defendants by the United State to Israeli authorities would appear to be the next step in the case.
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