Leader of International Lottery Telemarketing Fraud Scheme Sentenced in Manhattan Federal Court to 150 Months in Prison
Over $8 Million Was Stolen from Elderly Victims in the United States
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 25, 2011|
PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that MATTHEW GETTO was sentenced today in Manhattan federal court to 150 months in prison for his participation in a lottery telemarketing scheme based in Israel in which he and others stole over $8 million from elderly victims in the United States between 2007 and July 2009. In October 2010, GETTO was convicted after a non-jury bench trial. Eleven other individuals who were part of the same fraudulent scheme, all of whom are residents of Israel, have been charged in a separate indictment, which is before U.S. District Judge BARBARA S. JONES. GETTO, 28, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge HAROLD BAER, Jr.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA stated: “Matthew Getto is a con artist who used every trick in the book to swindle elderly victims in the United States out of their hard-earned savings. Today’s sentence sends a clear message that anyone who preys on the citizens of the United States, whether at home or abroad, will not get away with it.”
According to indictments previously filed in Manhattan federal court:
From approximately 2007 through 2009, GETTO and his coconspirators (collectively, the “defendants”) ran a fraudulent “lottery prize” scheme that targeted victims, mostly elderly, in the United States. The defendants identified potential victims by purchasing the names and contact information of U.S. residents who subscribed to sweepstakes lotteries. Operating out of telemarketing boiler rooms in Israel, so-called “qualifiers” would call the victims and falsely tell them they had won a substantial cash prize. If the victim had sufficient assets, they would be transferred to a co-conspirator who purported to be an attorney in the U.S., and who told the victims that to obtain the prize, they had to pay thousands of dollars in fees and taxes. Victims who complied were typically contacted again and induced to send additional funds, amounting to tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars. In reality, there was no lottery prize and the victims were ultimately bilked out of millions of dollars, collectively. The defendants used the names of various sham law firms that they told the victims were located in New York. The defendants further used various aliases and call forwarding telephone numbers to mask the fact that they were actually located in Israel.
GETTO was a part-owner and senior manager of one of the boiler rooms. In furtherance of the fraudulent scheme, GETTO falsely claimed to victims that he was a lawyer in New York or a director of claims at a sweepstakes company, among other bogus identities, in order to gain the victims’ trust before instructing them to send money by wire transfer or by commercial mail to co-conspirators in Israel.
In addition to his prison term, Judge BAER, Jr. imposed an order of forfeiture in the amount of $10,000,000.
Of the other defendants, TOSHIN SAMUELS, GILLIAN ROSENBERG, and OSHRAT PORTOLYONI have pled guilty for their participation in the scheme. NAOR GREEN, YULIA RAYZ, and AVI PEROV are presently scheduled for trial on July 25, 2011. AVI AYACHE, MICHELLE YUVAL, YARON BAR, LIMOR COHEN, and IAN KAYE are presently in Israel awaiting extradition.
The investigation into the lottery telemarketing fraud scheme was conducted in New York by the FBI, with assistance from the Israel National Police. Mr. BHARARA praised the investigative work of the FBI and the Tel Aviv Fraud Division of the Israel National Police. He also thanked the Office of International Affairs of the United States Department of Justice’s Criminal Division; the Department of International Affairs within the Office of the State Attorney in the Ministry of Justice for the State of Israel; and the Tel Aviv District Attorney’s Office, for their cooperation in the investigation.
This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s Organized Crime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys AVI WEITZMAN and STEVE C. LEE are in charge of the prosecution. Assistant U.S. Attorney MICHAEL LOCKARD is in charge of the forfeiture aspects of the case.