NEW YORK (JTA) – A New Jersey man was arrested for allegedly running a $200 million real estate scam that fed on the Orthodox community.
Police had been investigating Eliyahu Weinstein of Lakewood, N.J., since last December on suspicion that he bilked millions of dollars from members of Orthodox Jewish communities in New York, Miami and London through bogus real estate deals.
Weinstein was arrested Aug. 12 and jailed without bail.
The New York Jewish Week had reported last December that 14 investors, almost all Orthodox Jews, had filed complaints 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.
According to the federal charges brought against him, Weinstein repeatedly sold properties that he did not own and drew up fake leases to entice donors to invest in rental properties that he made look lucrative.
“Weinstein is charged with offering an array of lucrative investment opportunities that served the single purpose of fattening his wallet," said U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman, according to The Newark Star Ledger. "It is always offensive when someone steals from others to finance his own luxurious lifestyle, but it is especially galling to exploit a community with whom one shares an inherent trust.”