An immigrant from Mexico was arrested by Israeli police in late July after being accused of credit card fraud totaling hundreds of thousands of shekels, the Jerusalem Police Department announced Wednesday.
The Mexican national was suspected of fraud after a luxury hotel he was staying in reported him to the police – claiming he had spent a long period of time at the hotel and had been paying for his accommodation using numerous foreign credit cards and had posed as a wealthy foreign businessman.
Jerusalem Police detained the suspect upon receiving the tip and officially arrested the man after questioning him at a police station. He was also found to be in possession of two fake Mexican passports with names that matched his credit cards.
Pattern of fraud
After a police investigation, the man’s pattern of fraud was discovered, as five separate complaints had been filed across Israel detailing fraudulent purchases made with foreign credit cards. Victims include owners of a guesthouse, a luxury hotel, a charity that helps people in poverty and various other businesses throughout Israel.
The suspect’s crimes allegedly totaled hundreds of thousands of shekels, NIS 110,000 of which were to the hotel that originally reported him. The suspect used the credit cards to pay for his expensive accommodations, as well as purchase jewelry, food, cigarettes, concert tickets and more. The man even swindled an Israeli charity, pledging roughly NIS 140,000 with his fraudulent cards and embezzled tens of thousands of shekels from the charity for his personal use.
The 32-year-old man, who allegedly defrauded yeshiva students in Israel about a decade ago for tens of thousands of shekels after pretending to be a cancer patient, made aliyah last year and received Israeli citizenship. His detention has been extended several times as police continue their investigation and Israeli prosecutors prepare his indictment.
Credit card fraud on the rise
Credit card fraud has become globally widespread in the digital era. In June 2021, Israel Police released a warning to the public about an increase in online scam messages sent through emails, texts, and messaging apps like WhatsApp and Telegram.
In December 2020, Check Point Research, an Israeli cybersecurity firm, detected a significant increase of “phishing” emails – 440% since October – impersonating the world's largest shipping companies, such as DHL, Fedex and Amazon. Phishing is when scammers aim to get consumers to enter their personal information on a fake website – typically mimicking a login page for a website one would commonly use – so that the hackers can steal their credit card details and personal information.
Credit card information ostensibly obtained by scammers is frequently sold on the dark web – sometimes for as little as $3 for the personal information of Israeli citizens.