NEW YORK (JTA) — A New Jersey man is suspected of swindling more than $200 million from Orthodox Jewish investors in a real estate scam.
Police are investigating Eliyahu Weinstein of Lakewood, N.J., on suspicion that he bilked millions from members of Orthodox Jewish communities in New York, Miami and London through bogus real estate deals, according to court papers obtained by the New York Jewish Week.
The Jewish Week reported that 14 investors, almost all Orthodox Jews, have filed complaints with the New Jersey Federal Court against Weinstein alleging that he misappropriated their money.
According to one of the complainants, the 35-year-old entrepreneur used his background as a yeshiva student to gain their trust and then embezzled their money.
Weinstein "engaged in a criminal enterprise designed to steal sums of money… by offering knowingly false representations… relating to the identity of various alleged investment properties, property values, ownership, debt, mortgage positions, and development status of property," the Jewish Week quoted one of the complainants as saying.
Weinstein has not been charged with any of the allegations, which are subject to an ongoing police probe.
Gary Ginsburg, an attorney speaking on behalf of Weinstein, denied the complainants’ claims. He told the Jewish Week that the losses to investors were the result of the downturn in the real estate market rather than malfeasance on Weinstein’s part.