A French-Israeli man linked to a high-profile binary options fraud scheme is under police custody in Israel for defrauding French citizens, most of them were elderly, in a follow-up scam.
Israeli news sources reported that Ilan Abraham Marco, who immigrated from France ten years ago, has been arrested for a diverse list of charges. Namely, he allegedly impersonated French police officers and tax inspectors to approach victims of binary options fraud and claimed that, for a fee, he can help them recover the sums invested or the losses incurred on unlawful trading platforms.
The police raided Marco’s rented apartment in Tel Aviv and seized more than $900,000 in cash alongside mobile devices, computers, documents, credit cards and chequebooks. Marco, who also goes by the name Ilan Marko, claims that the source of his money was an inheritance and that most of these funds had been included in his statements to the Israeli Tax Authority.
According to French police, Marco’s fraud involved phone calls purportedly from government officials. The caller sounded official, spoke aggressively and demanded immediate payment and sometimes he threatened — pay up now or face arrest or some other serious consequence. In some cases, he told victims that the money they lost had been seized from the crooks and that they would be able to get it back, but only after paying tax.
Victims, usually desperate to recoup their losses, paid the upfront fees, which were anywhere from several hundred to thousands of euros, putting them in a bigger financial hole. Overall, Marco’s scheme defrauded more than 200 French citizens out of nearly 1.5 million Euros.
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Further details of the suspected offences under investigation and the identities of any other suspects were not available.
The arrest, which police said came after the undercover investigation that had lasted months, is the last since Israel authorities announced a crackdown on the binary options industry. The investigation into Marco’s scam started in February on a French police warrant.
Israeli police are still investigating how Marko, whose criminal record in France includes money laundering and tax offences, got the names and contact information of binary options victims. But, scam artists often buy and sell lists of previous victims so that they can call them promising to recover the money that they lost or profits they never received.
This type of activity is typical of the fraud mechanism known as a ‘recovery room’. Although some government agencies could help people who have lost money, they do not charge a fee, guarantee money back, or give special preference to anyone who files a formal complaint.
These recovery scams are simply defrauding the victims one more time, and according to French authorities, they use a variety of lies to add credibility to their pitch. In addition, once the victim shows interest, a series of official-looking documents are sent to assure the investor that money is waiting in an account and can be recovered for a fee.