Three indicted for fraud ring carried out from behind bars

Multi-million-shekel scheme allegedly targeted victims with outstanding traffic fines, promised to help reduce or cancel their debts

Illustrative. A prisoner behind bars. (sakhorn38/ iStock via Getty images)
Illustrative. A prisoner behind bars. (sakhorn38/ iStock via Getty images)

Prosecutors filed charges late last week against two brothers from Beersheba and a Tel Aviv man who are suspected of defrauding dozens of people out of millions of shekels by pretending to be attorneys and Vehicle Licensing Office officials and promising to help their victims get out of paying for unpaid traffic fines.

Two of the three allegedly carried out their part in the fraud scheme while serving prison sentences for previous fraud convictions.

In an indictment filed Thursday in a Beersheba court, brothers Avraham and Yakir Farash, aged 38 and 27 respectively, and 27-year-old Solly Avitan are charged with multiple counts of fraud and impersonating an attorney.

According to the Ynet news site, the three are also suspected of impersonating a well-known attorney, Sasi Gez.

The suspects deny the allegations.

According to the indictment, the alleged fraud has gone on for at least two years. Avraham Farash is identified as the mastermind who would reach out to Israelis with outstanding fines to government agencies. He would claim to be a fictional attorney named Tomer Paz, and would promise his victims that he and his colleagues could reduce or cancel traffic fines and other outstanding debts.

The alleged fraudsters identified their marks using information received from a fourth alleged collaborator, former professional soccer player Sharon Levy, who is now employed in the Postal Service’s in-house bank. Levy is also under arrest in the case.

Both Avitan and Avraham Farash committed some of the alleged acts while they were serving prison sentences for other crimes, prosecutors noted.

“Each of them used other people to carry out the crimes from within the prison’s walls,” the indictment reads.

Farash has spent 11 of the past 16 years in prison for various fraud offenses, while Avitan is currently serving 15 months for his own fraud conviction.

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