Sunday, November 14, 2010

United States / Jewish Holocaust

The Plot to Cheat Germany's Holocaust Survivors Fund
By Claire Suddath, November 13, 2010
"[...] On Nov. 9 the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, announced charges against 17 people believed to have knowingly defrauded the Conference for Jewish Material Claims Against Germany -- the New York-based organization responsible for processing and approving Germany's restitution payments to Jewish victims of Nazi persecution -- out of more than $42 million. Five former Claims Conference employees -- case agents and at least one supervisor -- along with recruiters and an expert document forger, allegedly submitted or otherwise tampered with more than 5,600 applications over 16 years. The extent of the fraud is so large that at a Nov. 9 press conference even Bharara admitted surprise, saying that he would have expected the nonprofit Holocaust survivors' organization to be 'immune from base greed and criminal fraud.' 'They knew to change all of the things we routinely check,' says Claims Conference executive vice president Greg Schneider. 'The forged documents look exactly like real ones. You cannot tell the difference.'
It's not easy to steal from a Holocaust fund. The Claims Conference runs several different restitution programs, each with specific eligibility requirements pre-determined by the German government. Victims must be born before certain dates, have lived within certain places, and sometimes possess no more than a certain income level -- all of which must be proven with copies of official documents. 'You'd really have to know your Holocaust history to get away with this,' says one employee who asked not to be named because she is involved in the investigation. ... When claimants received their reparations checks, they then allegedly split the money -- sometimes thousands of dollars -- with the defendants who are charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Two defendants, Abram and Tatyana Grinman, live in Bochkaryova's apartment building. They are accused of recruiting their elderly Russian Jewish neighbors, promising to help them obtain restitution money in return for a share of the money. TIME reached Tatyana Grinman by phone, but she refused to comment on the case. [...]"

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