Jan 2011 Journal

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Claims Conference scam uncovered

Last November, 17 people were arrested in New York in connection with an alleged fraud involving thousands of bogus applications for compensation made to the Claims Conference and paid by the German government, which had been defrauded of $42.5m.

The alleged fraud, thought to have been perpetrated by an organised criminal gang operating in Brooklyn in conjunction with Claims Conference employees, who were subsequently dismissed, involved the submission of false application forms and forged documents to two programmes operated by the Claims Conference: the Article II Fund, which pays the equivalent of a monthly pension of around £250 to Holocaust survivors who were interned in concentration camps and ghettos, and the Hardship Fund, a one-off payment of £2,000 to survivors who fled from Eastern Europe as the Nazis invaded.

Altogether, it is understood that some 4,957 Hardship Fund applications and 658 Article II Fund claims from 2000 to 2009 appear to be fraudulent.

The scam involved submitting claims with forged identifications and false details of persecution to meet the strict eligibility criteria for the funds. In some cases, people born after the Second World War made applications, while others altered places and dates of events.

The bogus claims were then signed off by a senior member of staff at the Claims Conference enabling gang members to take a large cut of the money paid to the applicant.

On discovering the fraudulent applications, the Claims Conference called in the FBI to investigate and make arrests. The Claims Conference is now taking steps to try to recover some of the money paid out.

The AJR would like to reassure recipients of the Article II Fund that they will continue to receive their regular compensation payments despite recent events and that applicants to both the Article II and Hardship Funds will continue to have their claims processed without delay.

Michael Newman

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