paratroopers 298 .
(photo credit: IDF file Photo)
A 33-year-old Israeli resident of Beit Shemesh who disguised himself as a high-ranking officer in an elite army combat unit in order to swindle women he met over the Internet was sentenced to three and half years in jail Wednesday by the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court.
Boaz Lugassi, who pretended to be a Lt. Col. in the general staff reconnaissance unit, was apprehended earlier this year following a month-long undercover police investigation, spurred by multiple complaints filed against him by women who fell for his artifice.
According to police, Lugassi deceived "hundreds if not thousands" of women he met over the Internet - including on such popular sites as Jdate and Blind date and Cupid - by fictitiously representing himself as a commando officer currently on break from service in the territories, who held academic degrees from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Many of the women attracted by his title, his higher education, and his offer of a "warm loving relationship" would go to his Beit Shemesh home for romantic meetings, police said.
To make the guise complete, Lugassi left IDF fatigues sprawled out on a chair at the entrance to his living room, replete with the red beret of the paratroopers and his prestigious undercover unit, as well as the rankings of a Lt. Col.
After having sex with "hundreds" of women in his home, Lugassi stole cash from some of their wallets, using some of their credit cards to pay for his Internet-date membership, which he told his partners was for the benefit of his soldiers who were on field operations and did not have time to meet women "the conventional way," police said.
Lugassi, who had a past criminal record for similar offenses, also had his women buy cologne, and sweets for his soldiers, while one of the women forked out NIS 650 for the goods after spending the night with him.
"By cynically exploiting his fictitious role the defendant injured the honor - and the property of the complainants," court president Judge Amnon Cohen wrote in his five-page sentencing.
In reality, Lugassi was actually discharged from the IDF a decade ago for psychological reasons with the ranking of private.
Police had previously said that Lugassi met and had sexual relations with "hundreds" of women in such a way, but the court sentencing states only that he met "many" women and had relations with at least six.