Four New York residents were charged on Thursday with embezzling $2.5 million of funds donated by Americans, mostly Jewish, from across the U.S., for Israeli organizations, the New York Times reported.
The lawsuit is targeting 19 charities which supposedly raise money for Israeli organizations, and. According to the New York Times, the lawsuit principally named Yaakov Weingarten, 52, his wife Rivka, 52, and his two employees, Simon Weiss, 28, and David Yifat, 66. The four were named as involved in the scheme by the State Supreme Court in Brooklyn.
According to the Times, the accused “brazenly abused the generosity of the public” by withdrawing more than $2.5 million for their personal and family expenses over a six-year period. These expenses included home mortgage and car loan payments, home remodeling expenses, dental care, video rentals and a trip to the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City.
The lawsuit said that the accused were “preying on a vulnerable public’s charitable instincts, and in particular the charitable impulses that many persons of the Jewish faith have for Israel,” and using “deceptive and highly aggressive tactics to raise millions of dollars from donors in New York State and throughout North America.”
Using various forms of deceit, such as telling potential donors that they had donated to the organization in the past or that they have failed to make good on a pledge to donate, the organizations solicited money by mail, telephone and the Internet, the New York Times reported.
“In these and other cases, the defendants employ the similar-sounding names to confuse donors into believing that they are contributing to a well-established charity or cause,” the Times quoted the lawsuit.