The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs is alerting Holocaust survivors and their families not to be taken in by an “odious” scam that promises to unlock Swiss bank accounts in exchange for personal information.
CIJA became aware of a campaign that appears to be targeting the Jewish community and which in one case advised a Calgary resident that one of their relatives killed during the Holocaust had left $75 million in a Swiss bank account. The letter bears the name of a consulting firm, a New York address and phone number. Sara Saber-Freedman, CIJA executive vice-president, said she contacted the letter writer by phone, but when she refused to give him her cell number, he hung up on her.
In the letter, copies of which were sent to others in Canada, the writer claims he is able to access the funds if the recipient of the letter provides extensive personal information. Saber-Freedman said, “It’s exactly like every other one of those scams that you read about and you get by email all the time.”
While frauds of this type prey on people’s trusting nature, this particular fraud “is revolting,” she said. “To use the Holocaust in this context is just vile.” Survivors are elderly and can be vulnerable to this sort of pitch, she added.
Sidney Zoltak, co-president of the Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants, said similar “sick kinds of operations” have come up before, promising survivors they could recover funds on insurance policies and properties in Poland. He advised survivors and their families to pursue claims through reputable organizations. While the current campaign did not ask for money up front, Zoltak said, “this is the beginning. Once you get to speak to someone who is really smooth, they can talk you into a lot of things.” They prey on the vulnerable and they’re ready “to take away their last savings and leave them penniless. They don’t care as long as they score,” he added.
Saber-Freedman said she has informed U.S. law enforcement and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre about the letters.