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WATCH: How Simona Weinglass’s reporting on fraud changed Israeli law

In this Times of Israel behind-the-scenes video, Weinglass discusses her investigation into the Wolves of Tel Aviv, the binary options scammers who fleeced victims worldwide

Relentless reporting by The Times of Israel’s Simona Weinglass led directly to the passage of Knesset legislation barring the widely corrupt binary options industry in Israel. Weinglass exposed a decade-long scam that saw thousands of Israelis employed in fleecing victims around the world out of vast sums of money by tricking them into thinking they were making credible investments.

Her reporting pitched Weinglass and The Times of Israel into direct conflict with fraudsters who utilized legal and other threats to try in vain to thwart our work.

It would be comforting to tell you that, with the passage of the law in October 2017, a major blow was struck in the battle against corruption in and from Israel, future such criminals were deterred, and the blight on Israel’s reputation as a safe place for business and investment was lifted.

Comforting, but untrue. Some binary options fraudsters have moved abroad. Others have tweaked their scam to evade the narrow provisions of the legislation. Israel has yet to indict a single one of the fraudsters — abandoning that work to more effective law-enforcement agencies overseas, notably in the US.

Moreover, Weinglass’s and ToI’s ongoing investigative reporting into binary options and other financial dirty dealings has exposed the wider impotence of Israel’s law enforcement agencies in confronting fraud and corruption, especially when the crime is transnational in nature, as so much financial crime is nowadays.

The Israel Police is under-budgeted and overworked, and, along with the state prosecution, has shown itself to be either unable or unwilling to effectively tackle the menace. (ToI’s editor David Horovitz wrote in detail about the wider war on Israeli corruption here.)

Testifying at one of the Knesset committee sessions where the soon-to-approved law was discussed, Weinglass herself told the assembled legislators that, in the absence of effective law enforcement to ensure that journalistic exposes are properly followed by police investigations and prosecutions, fewer and fewer reporters and publications will be ready, willing and able to put in the hours and take the risks involved in exposing the crooks. This concern becomes ever greater in today’s troubled media landscape, where so many publications are struggling professionally and financially.

Independent and nonpartisan, The Times of Israel is committed to continuing the effort to expose criminality, and thus to deter future crooks and protect future victims. It’s a relentless, uphill battle, and one we are proud to fight, as part of our wider commitment to reporting without fear or favor on Israel, the Jewish world and the Middle East.

If this work is important to you, please support it by joining our Times of Israel Community. Your financial support helps us invest in quality journalism such as Weinglass’s, which we believe makes Israel and the Jewish world more ethical, democratic and just.

— The Times of Israel editorial team

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