Israeli police arrest French-Israeli man for suspected 1.5m euro fraud

Ilan Abraham Marco allegedly called elderly French victims of binary options fraud and pretended he was a French law enforcement official who had recovered their money

Simona Weinglass is an investigative reporter at The Times of Israel.

Cash seized at the Tel Aviv apartment of fraud suspect Ilan Marco, on November 11, 2020 (Israel Police)
Cash seized at the Tel Aviv apartment of fraud suspect Ilan Marco, on November 11, 2020 (Israel Police)

Israeli police on Tuesday arrested a French-Israeli man who is suspected of defrauding more than 200 mostly elderly French citizens through the impersonation of French police officers and tax inspectors over the telephone. He is suspected of conning his alleged victims out of a total of about 1.5 million Euros.

Ilan Abraham Marco, 42, was arrested while playing volleyball on a Tel Aviv beach, the Israeli crime news site Posta reported. He was brought before a Tel Aviv magistrate on Monday and his remand was extended untill November 17. During a search of his central Tel Aviv apartment, police found €537,110 ($635,000), $87,900 and NIS 627,200 ($186,000), all in cash, according to court filings.

Marco has denied all of the allegations against him. He has reportedly claimed that the money came from an inheritance he had brought with him from France when he immigrated to Israel in 2011 and that he has reported this money to the Israel Tax Authority.

The Israel Police, which began their investigation of the alleged fraud in February at the behest of the French police, seized seven cellphones, computers, documents, credit cards and checkbooks at his rented apartment near Tel Aviv’s Masaryk Square, police said in a press release.

Marco is alleged to have defrauded French citizens who had previously been victims of binary options investment fraud. He allegedly told those victims that French authorities had recovered their stolen money, and that they could receive it if they first paid a fee to a bank account whose details he provided. Israeli police are trying to ascertain how he got the names and contact information of binary options victims and whether he is connected to the previous scam as well. Police are also reportedly trying to determine whether Marco had accomplices.

Ilan Marco (Instagram screenshot)

Hundreds, if not thousands, of recent French immigrants to Israel have made a living through Internet fraud, often working from offices or in small groups, with Israeli police investigating only a small fraction of them.

Marco, who also goes by the names Ilan Abraham, Illan Abraham, and Ilan Marko, is a player on the Inter Aliyah soccer team, a fifth-division team made up of immigrants to Israel from all over the world.

The soccer club is not suspected of any wrongdoing and one of its founders expressed shock to The Times of Israel at Marco’s arrest.

According to his player page, Marco is “affectionately known as the ‘doggy’ due to his ferocious style of defending. Beware of going into a 50-50 tackle with this canine as you may well end up getting bitten!!”

On his player page, Marco says that he is originally from the Paris suburb Sarcelles and that before moving to Israel in January 2011 he worked for a PR firm and played soccer at a semi-professional level.

“After many years in my home country,” he said of his reasons for moving to Israel, “I decided it was time to come here and I have now been living in Israel for nearly 10 years.”

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