'Con couple' took hundreds of thousands

Police: Woman used sex to seduce some victims to turn over their assets to couple.

A couple from the Sharon area has been arrested on suspicion of defrauding and even sexually manipulating a number of what police termed "helpless" victims, including the elderly, physically disabled and mentally challenged, the Tel Aviv Fraud Squad announced Tuesday. Police suspect that the couple ran scams in which they would take control of their victims' assets, at times convincing them to sign over partial ownership or even dedicate their wills to the two suspects. In at least two cases known to police, detectives believe that Yafit Helbos, 50, seduced the victims and maintained sexual relations with them before convincing them to part with their property. Her ex-husband, 42-year-old Rafael Helbos, is suspected of participating in the various schemes to acquire the victims' assets. Police estimate the total value of the property they acquired to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Social services offices turned to the Tel Aviv Fraud Squad with a complaint about an elderly man who lived in a decrepit, burned-out building and claimed that a woman had defrauded him. According to the victim, who is in his 80s, Helbos initiated sexual relations with him and eventually convinced him to relocate from his valuable Tel Aviv apartment to the run-down Sharon-area building in order to be closer to her - a building that police say was owned by the Helboses. In addition to convincing him to move out of his apartment, Helbos also allegedly convinced him to sign papers that she eventually used to take possession of the apartment in the land records. She then rented out the apartment to a secondary tenant, detectives said. As police continued to investigate, they found more and more examples of elderly and severely mentally and physically restricted people who had been taken in by the couple. Most of the victims apparently lived alone, making them easy prey for the couple's alleged schemes. In some cases, the couple is suspected of forging signatures and even physically attacking their victims. On Monday, detectives raided the Helboses' house, seizing a number of documents that police say show connections between the allegations and the victims, and arresting the couple. One day later, the pair appeared before Judge Mordehai Peled of the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court, who extended their remands by seven days. Under questioning, however, the couple denied the allegations against them.