An anonymous New York millionaire is under house arrest for his alleged role in an extortion plot of a well-known Rabbi in Tel Aviv, the Jerusalem Post reports.The millionaire’s story is a strange one, and we might never know what really happened.
But in it there’s an interesting lesson about trusting middlemen to invest your money for you.
This week, Israeli detectives bust up an extortion scheme by dressing up as waiters. They served and then arrested the millionaire and the extortionists in a Tel Aviv hotel lobby.
Though the police won’t reveal the names of the alleged blackmailers, we know that in total three men were arrested in the sting, and the alleged victim of their extortion is Rabbi Yaakov Klein; a rabbinical court judge from Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox section of Israel.
As far as details about the alleged criminals goes, Haaretz reports that one of the three extortionists used to work for a senior political figure. And another, the American millionaire, is an “ultra-Orthodox benefactor” that lives in Brooklyn.
The Brooklynite claims that five years ago, he donated $600,000 to a rabbi called Haim Cohen via Klein. Klein, he says, never delivered the funds.
Rabbi Klein denies ever receiving any money at all.
This affair began in August, when a rumour spread in a synagogue that the rabbi received $600,000 from a Jewish American donor based in New York, but didn’t pass it on to its intended recipient.
After hearing the rumour… the main two suspects went to the rabbi’s office, pretending to represent the US donor, and began making threats and demands for a portion of the money.
The blackmailers demanded $150,000 and threatened him for months, even saying they would “blow up” the rabbi’s daughter’s wedding.
Then the American millionaire got involved too – telling the rabbi that since the two others were big players in the criminal world, it was “in his best interest” to cough up the cash. In a meeting involving all three suspects and Rabbi Klein, Klein alleges the American said he would ensure “I was beaten up.”
Cue: the waiter sting.
Police bugged the lobby of a hotel where they knew extortionists had arranged to rendezvous with the rabbi, then outfitted themselves in wait staff garb, listened as the gang made more threats and then handcuffed the extortionists – including the Brooklyn man.