Israeli sentenced to 22 years in prison for fraud in the US

Israeli woman sentenced to 22 years in prison for orchestrating scheme that prosecutors said defrauded tens of thousands of investors.

Tags: Fraud
Arutz Sheva Staff ,


A federal judge in Maryland on Thursday sentenced Israeli woman Lee Elbaz to 22 years in prison for orchestrating a scheme that prosecutors said defrauded tens of thousands of investors across the globe out of tens of millions of dollars, The Associated Press reports.

US District Judge Theodore Chuang told Elbaz, 38, her actions cost vulnerable investors their life savings, homes and even their marriages.

“This was a very significant crime with significant harm to victims,” the judge said.

In August, a federal jury in Greenbelt, Maryland, convicted Elbaz of three counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Elbaz, who had been free on bail and living with a relative in San Francisco while awaiting trial, was taken into custody immediately after the jury’s verdict.

Prosecutors said in a court filing that the scheme involving Elbaz and others cost investors more than $137 million between May 2014 and June 2017. The judge calculated that $28 million was the loss that could be attributed to Elbaz’s role in the scheme.

Elbaz is one of 21 defendants charged in the fraud case and was the first to be tried. Five pleaded guilty and agreed to co-operate with prosecutors.

Elbaz was CEO of Yukom Communications, an Israel-based company that operated in the “binary options” industry under the brand names BinaryBook and BigOption. A superseding indictment unsealed in November charged 15 people, including two former Yucom Communications company owners, with participating in the fraud scheme involving BinaryBook and BigOption.

Yukom employees pretended to be from other countries, lied about their professional qualifications and adopted “stage names.” Elbaz used the alias “Lena Green” while interacting with investors, according to prosecutors, according to AP.

Yucom employees also falsely guaranteed profits, lied about their historical rates of return and didn’t tell investors that they only made money if their customers lost money, prosecutors said.

Elbaz trained employees to lie to investors and rigged the odds against them making and recouping any money, Justice Department prosecutor Rush Atkinson said during the trial’s closing arguments.

Defense attorney Barry Pollack said Elbaz did not condone any of the fraudulent tactics used by employees who worked under her supervision at a call center in Caesarea. Elbaz urged her employees in writing to “work clean,” her attorney said at the close of the trial.

FBI agents arrested Elbaz in September 2017 after she travelled to New York.