Four Israelis arrested on suspicion of scamming French treasury out of millions

The suspects in a scamming affair filed for COVID-19 leave money and turned it into cryptocurrencies.

 A coin representing the bitcoin cryptocurrency is seen on computer circuit boards in this illustrative picture (photo credit: REUTERS)
A coin representing the bitcoin cryptocurrency is seen on computer circuit boards in this illustrative picture
(photo credit: REUTERS)

Four Israelis were arrested Monday morning on suspicion of involvement in a widespread Israel-based scam of the French treasury, the theft of millions of euros and money-laundering by converting the ill-gotten funds into cryptocurrencies.

The four suspects are a couple from Haifa and two brothers from Petah Tikva and Jerusalem.

The investigation is being conducted in cooperation with French law enforcement after a number of French Jews were arrested last year on suspicion of scamming French law enforcement out of millions of shekels.

According to suspicions, the French suspects declared to the tax authorities that they had been put on unpaid leave because of COVID-19 and received money into their bank accounts within 48 hours. They then converted the money into cryptocurrency, which was managed by the Israeli suspects.

"They submitted many fictitious declarations, also in the name of real companies, and emptied the French state treasury of tens of millions."

Chief-Superintendent Dudi Katz
 Israeli money bills. (credit: PIXABAY) Israeli money bills. (credit: PIXABAY)

The investigation also revealed that the Israelis had hidden their finances from the Israeli Tax Authority and that many other tax crimes were committed worth tens of millions of shekels.

Israel Police arrests the suspects

Cyber Unit police officers raided the suspects' homes and confiscated the money and the computers that are suspected of being used to launder it. During one of the arrests, the suspect tried to throw a laptop out the window.

The investigation has been conducted over the last few months together with Europol and French police. All of the suspects are being interrogated on suspicion of money laundering, scamming and tax evasion.