Two Israelis have been extradited to France amid investigations into a suspected scam the two conducted, pretending to work at professional businesses that they claimed were in the process of developing a drug to treat COVID-19, according to Ynet. The scam succeeded in collecting 60,000 euros from three French companies.
Israel Police issued an extradition order for the two residents of Raanana who have French citizenship on Sunday. The two tried to sell medical equipment necessary during the coronavirus outbreak to grocery store chains in France. The scam was conducted from within Israel, as they contacted dozens of companies while pretending to be officials from an orgnization asking for large sums of money.
After receiving complaints from French authorities, the economic wing of Lahav 443 of Israel Police began a rapid investigation to find, arrest and question the suspects in Israel. In similar past investigations, the suspects were released to their homes until evidence was presented for an indictment, a process which could take months or even years, according to Ynet.
This time, Israel Police along with Interpol and French police decided to act quickly and issued an international arrest warrant soon after their arrest over the weekend.
"This is the first case of its kind," a senior Israel Police officer told Ynet. "This is part of the fight against international criminals who are trying to hide in different countries after they carry out their crimes."
Leah Floss, the attorney for one of the suspects, called the issuance of the arrest warrant "irregular" and warned that it raised a number of legal questions. Floss added that there is "no doubt that this is a dramatic, extreme and unprecedented process which is very doubtfully legal," according to Ynet.
In March, two Israeli citizens were convicted by a court in Paris of stealing 55 million euros, claiming that they worked for the French defense minister and needed money to pay a ransom to liberate two kidnapped French citizens, the BBC reported.
The scam in March was conducted from a house in Ashdod in southern Israel.