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‘Obscene’ Scam Tries to Trick Canadian Victims of the Holocaust into Handing Over Cash

TORONTO—In what is being called a “vile” and “obscene” scam, a suspected fraud artist has been targeting members of Canada’s Jewish community who were victims of the Holocaust.

Letters delivered in Alberta and Ontario ask for the recipients’ personal information, telling them they are entitled to a share of $75-million from the Holocaust Claims Processing Office.

It says the money will be transferred to a “secure numbered account,” and asks for 60 per cent of the money as a fee. Scammers typically try to convince victims to pay “fees” in order to receive payoffs that never materialize.

“I have all secret details and necessary contacts for claim of the funds without any hitch,” reads the letter signed by Larry Dubali, identified as a senior partner of Tenure Consulting in New York.

Reached by phone Thursday, Mr. Dubali, who seemed to speak with an African accent, hung up without answering questions. The phone and address on his letters are associated with complaints about telephone frauds.

“It’s so clear that this is a scam,” said Sara Saber-Freedman, executive vice-president of the Toronto-based Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, which has notified the police, phone company and Internet provider about the scheme.

After obtaining copies of the letters from community members, Ms. Saber-Freeman called Mr. Dubali. Noting he seemed to have a West African accent, she wondered whether her call had been forwarded to a phone in another country.

“These scams really do play upon and destroy people and their life savings,” she said, adding a similar fraud had appeared in the United Kingdom a decade ago. “That they are leveraging the Holocaust to do this, it’s just vile. This is just odious.”

Canadian Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants sent letters to community leaders Wednesday warning about the scam. President Sidney Zoltak said those who may have legitimate claims to Holocaust-era bank accounts, artworks or insurance policies can easily make inquiries on their own and should ignore solicitations.

“It’s obscene as far as I’m concerned,” Mr. Zoltak said. “Does it surprise me that there are people who would do that to Holocaust survivors? They’ll do it to anybody, they’ll do it to their own family.”

National Post