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How The Holocaust Funds Were Bilked

Eligible recipients paid fees to alleged fraudsters

Marc Tracy
November 11, 2010
Bella Freytor, 58.(NYT)
Bella Freytor, 58.(NYT)

The New York Times heads to Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, a Russian Jewish enclave, to talk to a few of the Holocaust survivors who unwittingly participated in the alleged conspiracy to defraud two Germany-sponsored reparations funds of over $42 million. Bella Freytor, whose parents were survivors, was approached by Tatyana Grinman, who told Freytor to fill out an application for $4000, keep $1000, and pay Grinman—who has since been arrested along with her husband and 15 others—$3000 as a fee.

Reports the Times:

The scheme used a number of ruses, according to prosecutors. In some instances, the applicants’ actual experiences would be tailored to fit the requirements of the fund; in other instances, a person’s real name and Social Security number would be submitted, but with a fabricated age and life story.

It was not clear to Ms. Freytor how or even if her application or that of her husband’s was doctored; she said they gave their information in good faith, received a check and paid Ms. Grinman for her services.

Says Brighton Beach resident Zlota Portnaya: “I was in the ghetto, and I have problems now because of these people.”

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.