The overseers of a Holocaust survivor fund are looking to make up the $42 million local fraudsters stole by asking recipients of the funds to pay back thousands of dollars.
The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, responsible for doling out funds to Holocaust survivors on behalf of the German government, sent out letters to those who received the wrongly-acquired money, according to the Associated Press. The letter allows for an option to appeal, putting their documents under an additional review.
More than 90 people have already told the conference that they will appeal cancellation of their benefits, and 35 more have agreed to return it.
But that’s just a sliver of the 5,500 fraudulent claims containing altered birth dates and phony stories of suffering under Nazi rule, submitted to the Claims Conference during a 16-year-long scam.
The 17 perpetrators of the fraud, mostly Brighton Beach residents, were named earlier this month when the FBI and Justice Department brought charges against them. Many worked for the Claims Conference, giving tips to Brighton-based document counterfeiters on the types of details the organization looked for.
In a building on Brighton 12th Street, counterfeiters recruited elderly neighbors, telling them they qualified for the funds and they could help them with the processing. For their efforts, the recipients of the organization’s $4,000 check would keep $1,000, and send the remainder to the fraudsters for their “service.”
The neighborhood continues to grapple with the scale and shamelessness of the scam.
“I cannot imagine that someone would lie like that; it’s a terrible crime,” Klara Rakhlin, 72, told the Associated Press. “I lost my family in a concentration camp, and it’s disgusting that people would get compensation although they haven’t suffered.”