Tube shekel scam­mer is

The Jewish Chronicle - - News - JC RE­PORTER

BRI­TISH TRANS­PORT Po­lice this week paid trib­ute to JC read­ers who helped catch the so-called Tube shekel scam­mer.

Is­rael Aharonovitz, 58, of Seven Sis­ters Road, Hack­ney, was jailed for a year at the be­gin­ning of Pe­sach for three counts of fraud by false rep­re­sen­ta­tion af­ter he ob­tained a to­tal of £368 from Ortho­dox Jewish pas­sen­gers, which he said was to pay for the treat­ment of a sick rel­a­tive at home in Is­rael. Dur­ing the frauds, Aharonovitz, speak­ing He­brew, promised to re­turn the money and pro­vided false con­tact de­tails to his vic­tims at Fins­bury Park and King’s Cross St Pan­cras Tube sta­tions in Novem­ber 2007 and March and April 2008.

He was caught and ar­rested at King’s Cross Tube sta­tion just af­ter mid­day on Fri­day 11 April by of­fi­cers af­ter they recog­nised him from CCTV images from Tube sta­tions that had been cir­cu­lated to all BTP po­lice sta­tions.

The of­fi­cers fol­lowed him and watched him get­ting on and off trains at the sta­tion, cross­ing plat­forms and at­tempt­ing to speak to pas­sen­gers be- fore he was ar­rested. PC Martin Wil­son, one of the in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cers, said: “In each case, Aharonovitz trav­elled on the Tube look­ing for peo­ple of Jewish Ortho­dox ap­pear­ance.

“Af­ter iden­ti­fy­ing his vic­tims, he would talk to them in He­brew and tell them ei­ther that a rel­a­tive of his was sick or that his bank card had ex­pired. He would then ask if he could ex­change shekels, the Is­raeli cur­rency, for pounds ster­ling.”

When his vic­tims agreed to help and took him to an ATM, Aharonovitz would an­nounce that he did not have any shekels on him but would send a cheque to re­im­burse them if they gave him their name and ad­dress. The promised cheque would never ar­rive.

“This was a clear case of fraud whereby the of­fender preyed on the good na­ture of his vic­tims.

“I would like to pass my thanks to the vic­tims, mem­bers of the com­mu­nity and Jewish Chron­i­cle read­ers who came for­ward to pro­vide us with state­ments and in­for­ma­tion be­cause with their help it was pos­si­ble for us to quickly iden­tify Aharonovitz as the of­fender,” added PC Wil­son.

Aharonovitz, who pleaded guilty to the charges, was sen­tenced at City of West­min­ster Mag­is­trates’ Court on April 18.

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