Special Report: The French Connection
Israel found itself in recent decades becoming a growing safe haven for criminals from around the world. Often all it takes in order to find refuge in Israel is Jewish lineage, a fact many criminals – from Australia to Russia and just about anywhere in between – exploited. In this criminal influx, French scammers seem to be a particularly large and extremely notorious gang.
The names of these French Scammers who hounded the French underworld for decades – Mimeran, Mouly, Souied, Astruc, Bloomberg, Setrouk, Allouch, Waknin, Grieco, Berrebi, Ben Ezra,… – are not quite household names (except, perhaps, for Mimeran, who became infamous for his questionable ties to Israeli PM Netanyahu), but they are true criminal masterminds and they share a very similar origins story.
Most of the aforementioned scammers were raised in the poorest neighborhoods and suburbs of Paris, France, 2nd generation to North African immigrants, who experienced hardships in their family lives and struggled through school, most of them dropping out of the French educational system before obtaining their basic diplomas. Despite these hardships, most of them roamed the fanciest arrondissements of the city of lights, driving around in flashy cars and frequenting the poshest spots in the world. The money they had was not the product of hard work (“I do not know how to do legitimate business … I never tried” bragged one of them with a smile), but rather by scamming hard working people out of their money.
As time went by their involvement with crime grew heavier and the French authorities were struggling to turn a blind eye to their actions. They found themselves arrested, assaulted and some of them assassinated (at times by some of their fellow members to the “French Jewish Scammer mafia”). Afterlife in France became too risky, most of them fled to Israel. Worry not, unlike most immigrants, they did not have to rebuild themselves from the bottom in their newfound homeland. Quickly many of them acquired (in cash of course…) properties in some of Israel’s most luxurious neighborhoods, in Herzliya, Ashdod, and Netanya.
These scammers, now comfortably lounging in their beautiful homes overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, lead broad criminal operations, scamming thousands of victims. They did not seem too particular about their targets, targeting small businesses and multinational corporations, individuals from all walks of life and from many different countries around the globe. Their actions led many of their victims to lose everything they had, but the soothing sound of waves heard from their balconies, gently hides their victims’ cries of despair.
Eras of Evil
The scams these groups pulled off can be separated into different ‘eras’, or periods. The first period is commonly referred to by experts as the “Advertising Period”. During that period, they focused on selling advertising spaces to various companies in dairies, catalogue’s and various magazines, always posing as government representatives from different government agencies (firefighting brigade, police retiree union, Fiscal administration and many more no one can refuse to cooperate with …).
Following the “Advertising Period,” they advance to what is known as the “VAT Scams Period”. During that period, they defrauded the authorities in many EU countries – France, England and Belgium to name a few – out of the 6% VAT revenues, which mounted up to billions and billions of Euros.
From the “VAT fraud Period” (known as the “Carousel”) they graduated to “CO2 Quotas Scam Period”. During that period, they led fraudulent schemes selling big corporations non-existent CO2 quotas, in order to help the corporations withstand the strict EU regulations, again grossing billions of Euros in the process, and adding VAT fraud for this CO2 stock exchange quotas trading.
After graduating from the “CO2 Quotas Scams Period” this group of vile criminals moved on to their present stage, which is referred to by members of the law enforcement agencies in Israel as their “Forex Period”. In recent years they have formed a strong presence in the Forex, Binary Options, and Crypto Trading markets, operating global operations from seemingly innocent offices and call-Centers in many Israeli cities. The companies they run – BINEX, GREENTECH, CrowdWIZ, EuroReg, AGFAC and ZoomTrader… – are just their new method of scamming people out of their money, now under a shiny ‘High-Tech’ disguise. And “on the way” created false mandatory services as “European climate registry”, “European Transport registry”, “European VAT registry”, “Euro Reg”, “Accessibility diagnostics (and penalties for incapability)”, false announcements of gains in lottery (to get from victims details of their Credit cards and bank accounts), and of course the famous “President Fraud” (injuring 1,800 businesses in France alone, including leading companies like MICHELIN, INTERMARCHE, COCA COLA, KPMG …)
Why Israel of all places?
Israel is particularly attractive for the criminal enterprises of these scammers for a number of reasons:
First of all, as previously mentioned, Israeli immigration laws make it very easy for Jews around the world to rapidly obtain Israeli citizenship, this is a luxury they will struggle getting in other countries where their criminal background make any dream of becoming a citizen practically impossible.
Secondly, many of the scammers come from traditional Jewish homes. Israel allows them to carry on with their criminal activities while practicing Judaism openly (often times something quite challenging to do in many western countries these days), in the holiest of countries for them while providing their families with a safe surrounding.
The third reason might sound absurd to foreign ears, but most Israelis take it for granted – Israel is very reluctant to extradite its citizens (turning fellow Jews to “gentile custody” is extremely frowned upon in Jewish tradition, stemming from centuries of oppression and persecution) to other countries. While willing to do so when it comes to violent crimes, Israel does not extradite easily its citizens for ‘white collar’ (economic) crimes – making it a very safe e for international scammers.
The fourth reason is Israel aptitude for technology. Israel, the self-proclaimed ‘start-up nation’, has amassed technological accomplishments greatly disproportionate to its size, ranking it consistently as one the world’s leading countries in the field. While it is a great source of Israeli pride, it is also a fertile recruiting ground for the French scammers for their newly founded cybercrime kingdom.
The Fifth reason, Israel, being a ‘melting-pot’ composed of Jewish immigrants from around the world is the perfect place to build call-Center empires. With immigrants freshly arriving from virtually every country in the (western) world, these call Center representatives can assist in the scamming of unsuspecting individuals who are unaware that the ‘local-sounding’ person they are talking to is, in fact, talking to them from Israel. This disguise, allows them to scam their trusting victims of their hard-earned money.
What can be done?
Sadly, changing Israeli laws to make it harder for such scammers is unlikely in the foreseeable future. Over time, many of the aforementioned scammers have formed strong bonds with Israeli politicians, making any chance of prosecuting them in Israel or extraditing them overseas.
We urge our readers to try to avoid dealing with their fraudulent companies and people and call any of their victims to contact us. We in FinLeaks will try to collect as many complaints and reports of criminal activities against them in order to turn them in to the authorities and petition Israeli politicians into action.