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Nebraska - Israeli Woman Conned Into Coming to The U.S. Warns of Potential Scam

Published on: July 13, 2010 06:24 PM
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Con-artists lured one Israeli woman to Omaha, Neb., as part of an art forgery scam. After they left her at a gas station without money, she turned to the local Chabad House.Con-artists lured one Israeli woman to Omaha, Neb., as part of an art forgery scam. After they left her at a gas station without money, she turned to the local Chabad House.

Nebraska - Penniless and stranded in Omaha with no ticket home, an Israeli woman left at a gas station by con-artists who lured her to the United States with the promise of work finally found shelter at a local Chabad House. As she pieces together enough money to fly back to her parents, the woman is warning others not to fall into the same trap she did.

“I come from a family with seven children,” says Batsheva, 19, withholding her last name for fear of retribution. “I wanted to do something with my life.”

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When Batsheva – who is now working temporarily for Rabbi Mendel Katzman, director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Nebraska – saw an advertisement for a job that would pay $3000 a week for just four hours of work each day, she was hooked. Even though the fine print stipulated that she had to pay for her own one-way ticket to the States, she had no suspicion that those behind the ad would renege on their promise to pay for her return trip.
But when she arrived, her savings depleted, she quickly realized all was not on the up and up. Her handlers instructed her to affix her signature to oil paintings and sell them door to door, posing as an artist from Europe. What checks she received she gave to two men, who neglected to pay her.

“The first week, I worked and I didn’t get paid anything,” she relates.

After a second week of work without pay, she confronted them. They took her to the gas station and drove off.

“I started to cry,” she says. “I started to talk to the Creator and ask, ‘What did I do wrong?’ ”

She spent her first weekend at a shelter, refusing to eat the non-kosher food they give her. Two Sundays ago, she called the Chabad House.

Katzman says that what he heard on the other end of the line was heartbreaking.

“I’m hungry,” she told him. “I’m thirsty. I’m tired. I’m a Jew and I need to be with Jews.”

“She was starving, and couldn’t bring herself to eat the ham and cheese there,” relates Katzman. “Thank G-d, we were here to help.”

Local authorities are investigating. A sheriff’s deputy, who happens to be an American-born Israeli citizen and speaks Hebrew, even helped Batsheva retrieve her clothes from a hotel room.

But according to Katzman, not much can be done. The men have picked up and moved on.

Batsheva sees the incident as Divine Providence.

“I know that this is a test,” she explains. “A person doesn’t come here for no reason. These things don’t happen for no reason.”

“She never realized how much she loves her home, her land, her Judaism,” says Katzman. “All she wants now is to get back home fast.”

The rabbi is concerned that more young women with stars in their eyes could get caught up in such scams, which anecdotal evidence suggests are common.

“If something’s too good to be true,” he says, “it probably is. At least Batsheva wasn’t harmed.”


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Read Comments (46)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jul 13, 2010 at 06:36 PM Anonymous Says:

She should have gone to NY for a shidduch.

In any event, she cannot be religious. What religious 19 year old would come all the way to America for some work by herself?

2

 Jul 13, 2010 at 06:55 PM Anonymous Says:

Wow - what a nice ending to a potentially bad story - kudos to the Chabad rabbi for helping out this Jewish girl.

3

 Jul 13, 2010 at 06:59 PM i don know Says:

this whole story makes no sense in my eyes...she came pennyless...for a job classifies??? a frum jewish girl?? to omaha nebreska??? wheere did she think she would eat in the first place??? sounds fishy...

4

 Jul 13, 2010 at 07:00 PM Anonymous Says:

poor girl, i hope she gets home safely and finds a good job in Israel.

5

 Jul 13, 2010 at 07:08 PM Anonymous Says:

“I started to cry,” she says. “I started to talk to the Creator and ask, ‘What did I do wrong?’

Maybe working as an illegal immigrant and then selling fake paintings and lying through her teeth to those buying the art.

A good lesson to her and others.

6

 Jul 13, 2010 at 07:11 PM Anonymous Says:

As long as our kids are sheltered and innocent... Who cares if they're not ready to face the very nasty real world...

7

 Jul 13, 2010 at 07:13 PM kachka Says:

so she sells knock-off paintings, fakes being an artist and SHE WAS SCAMMED?!?

8

 Jul 13, 2010 at 07:17 PM wow! Says:

its pretty amazing that chabad was there to help her, and all the way in Omaha!

9

 Jul 13, 2010 at 07:18 PM sigh sigh Says:

WHY WHY WHY are people so naïve? Who would believe that $3000 a wk for four hrs work each day is a legit promise?
Why don't people use their sense????
She couldve so easily had her life in danger. She's VERY FORTUNATE to be alive and well and unharmed.

Fellow jews: take a lesson from all these foolish and childish stories.

10

 Jul 13, 2010 at 07:24 PM Anonymous Says:

What difference does it make if she is religious or non-religious? Did Chabad ask her that asinine question when it rescued her? Although the article did not say so, I have my suspicions that those involved in this scam were fellow Israelis. A shanda!

11

 Jul 13, 2010 at 07:26 PM gotta love chabad Says:

no matter where you roam chabad is your home

12

 Jul 13, 2010 at 07:29 PM Sarah Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

She should have gone to NY for a shidduch.

In any event, she cannot be religious. What religious 19 year old would come all the way to America for some work by herself?

Don't be such a schmuck, so judgemental. Where is your compassion for this poor Jewish girl?

13

 Jul 13, 2010 at 07:34 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

She should have gone to NY for a shidduch.

In any event, she cannot be religious. What religious 19 year old would come all the way to America for some work by herself?

Does it really matter if she was religious or not? For a yeshiva person, that's what's important. For a true ben torah, and chabad, all that mattered was a jew in need of help.

Also, since when do non religious jews refuse to eat non kosher?

14

 Jul 13, 2010 at 07:49 PM feel bad Says:

I feel bad for the women....but anyways - what would we do without Chabad...??!!

15

 Jul 13, 2010 at 07:54 PM Anonymous Says:

if the story actually took place as it is written (not sure i believe it) than i honestly cant feel bad for such a girl!what was she thinking???? no fair of getting raped or killed?

16

 Jul 13, 2010 at 07:59 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

She should have gone to NY for a shidduch.

In any event, she cannot be religious. What religious 19 year old would come all the way to America for some work by herself?

then i guess those boys who ended up in japan arent religious either because which religios 18 year old boy goes to japan. must be they arent religious

17

 Jul 13, 2010 at 08:00 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

As long as our kids are sheltered and innocent... Who cares if they're not ready to face the very nasty real world...

Right... Like all those "non" sheltered people you so love...got away with the Madoff scam

18

 Jul 13, 2010 at 08:01 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

She should have gone to NY for a shidduch.

In any event, she cannot be religious. What religious 19 year old would come all the way to America for some work by herself?

you obviously are also not religious since you lack compassion and according to the shulchan aruch, are more than likely a sofek yid.

19

 Jul 13, 2010 at 08:12 PM ShatzMatz Says:

Something is missing from this story. The main plot fits perfectly with the typical slave-trafficing case we hear about so much in the news. Luring a young girl to a strange place thousands of miles from home with false promises is the classic MO for these low-lifes. Usually the girls who respond to such offers have troubled backgrounds to begin with, in addition to having loose morals. Another thing that is quite common in these cases is that the deal usually goes bad and the victim scrambles to get out of the situation by all means possible.

20

 Jul 13, 2010 at 08:12 PM Anonymous Says:

I feel bad for the girl. I do have to agree with another commentator that I bet the men were israeli. How else would an ad end up in Israel for work in Nebraska? I bet the Ad was in hebrew too.

Kudos to chabad for helping!

21

 Jul 13, 2010 at 08:24 PM Anonymous Says:

You question how come she got scammed? How come all these Nigerian scams are still successful? Because there's one idiot born every second. Batsheva is an idiot too, but all she lost was some $$. By the way, I know the Katzmans, they're great people (the Rebbetzin taught my daughter!) What I don't understand is why her family didn't talk her out of it. Yes, I know she's over age, but still!

For the record, I get at least 3 Nigerian scam emails a week (I just got rid of my last one before I read this.)

22

 Jul 13, 2010 at 08:32 PM Aron Says:

What's most heartwarming about the outcome of this story is knowing that there are at least 3 perfect people in the world (commentors #1,#3,#5).

23

 Jul 13, 2010 at 08:42 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

She should have gone to NY for a shidduch.

In any event, she cannot be religious. What religious 19 year old would come all the way to America for some work by herself?

"What religious 19 year old would come all the way to America for some work by herself? ”

That's exactly what our bubbas and zeidas. observant Jews, did around the turn of the century. They came straight from their shtetlach, often teenagers by themselves, to find work, to flee from persecution and to make better lives for themselves and their future children. You can read the ships' manifests with lists of the immigrants coming to Ellis Island, and you will see their names and ages. Some traveled with family and some came by themselves. It is only in recent decades that (so-called) religious Jews have deliberately ghettoized themselves and sheltered their young, particularly their daughters, from the world at large.

Of course, in this case, Batsheva was foolish to believe that anyone would pay her large sums of money for little work and to enter the US to work illegally. Once here she clearly felt she had no choice but to participate in the art scam. This is what happens when young people have little education and practical experience in the world. An educated girl who felt she had a good future at home would have smelled a rat. Give thanks that she found a safe haven.

24

 Jul 13, 2010 at 08:47 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #21  
Anonymous Says:

You question how come she got scammed? How come all these Nigerian scams are still successful? Because there's one idiot born every second. Batsheva is an idiot too, but all she lost was some $$. By the way, I know the Katzmans, they're great people (the Rebbetzin taught my daughter!) What I don't understand is why her family didn't talk her out of it. Yes, I know she's over age, but still!

For the record, I get at least 3 Nigerian scam emails a week (I just got rid of my last one before I read this.)

how do uknow that she has parents? think out of your narrow box for a change

25

 Jul 13, 2010 at 09:05 PM Anonymous Says:

I don't think that the US Costoms whold have let her in the USA with a 1way ticket, some think is mising,

26

 Jul 13, 2010 at 09:06 PM Anonymous Says:

May chabad be richly blessed for all of the goodness they do in the world.

27

 Jul 13, 2010 at 09:23 PM Anonymous Says:

1, If all the Chochom commenters (like me) sitting and blogging donated $10 she would be home soon.
2, Many Israeli's that come here expect to hit it rich and when they fail they are too shamed to go home. All the Israeli car service drivers would be millionaires in Israel if they worked that many hours in Israel.

28

 Jul 13, 2010 at 09:40 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
i don know Says:

this whole story makes no sense in my eyes...she came pennyless...for a job classifies??? a frum jewish girl?? to omaha nebreska??? wheere did she think she would eat in the first place??? sounds fishy...

She's probably traditional, not straight out of the Beis Yaakov and she probably, like most young people, thought she was invincible and that there was nothing to loose.

Your comment about eating shows you haven't been out of the velt. Most commercial products in grocery stores (except meat) usually have hechshers. It isn't completely insane that a traditional girl would do this.

29

 Jul 13, 2010 at 10:03 PM Anonymous Says:

What does an Israeli girl know from Omaha Nebraska? A girl from Israel has no idea what a huge country this is. She sounds like a good kid. She wouldn't eat non kosher. At least she knew enough to get in touch with chabad.

30

 Jul 13, 2010 at 10:14 PM HaNavon Says:

Mi C'mocha Yisroel, Am echad b'aretz!
I know that everyone loves to talk about ChaBaD, but when you're stranded and hungry, who do you call?
Keep in mind that I'm not a Lubavitcher, but there certainly was something messianic about the Lubavitcher Rebbe, it's just that people don't completely understand the concept of Moshiach...there are many massiahs that came and will come for the tafkid of making the world a better place, not all of them are mainstream, not all of them are frum, and not all of them are Jewish.
In this regard, it's similar to the concept of nevuah. There are many levels of nevuah, and not all of them were like Moshe or Eliahu...some of them weren't even Jewish at all, but they came here with a message that eventually transformed the world toward spiritual enlightenment.
Rav Kook, Z'L, wrote this in reference to the 11 levels of prophecy discussed in the moreh nevuchim, and he even says that the Yoisel and Muhammed were nevi'im, with a low level of nevuah, sent to transform the world.
Keep in mind that the messages of hatred and violence within both Christianity and Islam were added later by anti-Judaeists like John Chrysostom and Ibn Abd al Wahhab

31

 Jul 13, 2010 at 10:44 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

She should have gone to NY for a shidduch.

In any event, she cannot be religious. What religious 19 year old would come all the way to America for some work by herself?

So a 16 year old frum girl is old enough to get married and have children but not old enough to come to the U.S. to work?? Is there somthing in halacha that says its assur to work to support yourself?

32

 Jul 14, 2010 at 04:06 AM Anonymous Says:

It is so pathetic how so many Israelis think of the USA as a goldene medinah and of Israel as the last place to find a parnasa. Hundreds if not thousands of meshulachim descend on the USA every year in the hopes of making money (few succeed). Jews in Israel are jealous of the higher material standard there-and that has just got to end already. Today everyone has basics-even in Israel. When someone is in need there are numerous organizations to help them. The gemach section of every religious town is usually a chapter in the city's telephone guide! The Israeli mentality is what needs to change-to be happier with the land of Israel and the standards in Israel. Israel is way richer in ways that the USA will never be able to compete with.

33

 Jul 14, 2010 at 04:49 AM Israeli Says:

Reply to #16  
Anonymous Says:

then i guess those boys who ended up in japan arent religious either because which religios 18 year old boy goes to japan. must be they arent religious

How did she get through the US immigration? How did she originally get her visa?

34

 Jul 14, 2010 at 05:35 AM Anonymous Says:

B"H in the merit of her declaring herself a YID and not eating treyf she was redeemed. I'm sorry to hear this story but B"H she was not harmed. It could have been so much worse. Look at this story, it has hashgocho protis written all over it.

35

 Jul 14, 2010 at 08:59 AM who says Says:

Who says she is illegal? Who says the paintings are fake & if they were, who says she knew? Who says she was lying? Learn how to read a story without prejudice

36

 Jul 14, 2010 at 09:17 AM shua Says:

but seriously, how did she escape her group home? Her councilors should be held responsible for letting a helpless handicapped girl go to the US without proper supervision

37

 Jul 14, 2010 at 09:24 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

She should have gone to NY for a shidduch.

In any event, she cannot be religious. What religious 19 year old would come all the way to America for some work by herself?

You sound like a nice person.

38

 Jul 14, 2010 at 09:25 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
i don know Says:

this whole story makes no sense in my eyes...she came pennyless...for a job classifies??? a frum jewish girl?? to omaha nebreska??? wheere did she think she would eat in the first place??? sounds fishy...

You sound very sheltered.

39

 Jul 14, 2010 at 09:32 AM Drei Kopp Says:

Reply to #35  
who says Says:

Who says she is illegal? Who says the paintings are fake & if they were, who says she knew? Who says she was lying? Learn how to read a story without prejudice

If that's the case..would you like to buy a painting?

40

 Jul 14, 2010 at 09:52 AM Moshe Says:

Chabad saves the day again.....

41

 Jul 14, 2010 at 10:42 AM Story makes perfect sense... Says:

The paintings aren't :fake", they're just quick knockoffs by (usually) an older artist who can make twenty a day. But he won't be successful selling them cuz it's not a "cute" thing to buy one from him, but a young, probably pretty girl is a different story.

This stuff is true, I know kids from Israel who have done this, Dudi S. from Arzei Habira did it, made a lot of money, he's a goodlooking, smooth-talking kid from a frum family who went off the D.

The idea of scamming girls is a new twist on an old theme.

The fact that she went there without plans of where to eat is not a kasha at all. 1st of all, in Israel you can always find kosher, (not Badatz, but nominally kosher), and Israelis have NO IDEA how much bigger and goyish America is.
(BTW, even in USA if you know the hechsherim you can usually find something to eat, but this girl was penniless and going to shelters anyway.)

Also she probably assumed that the "chevra" of fellow Israelis would show her the ropes.

AND she probably didn't think too much before at all. Not everyone in Israel is a Bais Yaakov girl from Lakewood; she probably is traditional and wanted to get away from home, and her parents didn't object. Or did.

42

 Jul 14, 2010 at 11:13 AM Ayelet Says:

Reply to #25  
Anonymous Says:

I don't think that the US Costoms whold have let her in the USA with a 1way ticket, some think is mising,

That is true, I was once stuck in Tel Aviv for that very reason. They will not even allow people to begin flights to the US without exit tickets in hand. I wonder how she got them to let her on the plane in Israel, and through US Customs here?

43

 Jul 14, 2010 at 11:14 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #25  
Anonymous Says:

I don't think that the US Costoms whold have let her in the USA with a 1way ticket, some think is mising,

Technically, if she signs the paintings, she is participating in the art, even if it is performance art.

44

 Jul 14, 2010 at 12:03 PM the man Says:

Chabad rocks

45

 Jul 15, 2010 at 02:00 PM actual Jew Says:

I want to show this article to my preteen kids to show them how naive people can get snookered. Religious or not, she got scammed and it is a shame. Thank G-d for Chabad. She should take this story back to Israeli media. Poor girls from all over the world get scammed into much worse all the time.

46

 Jul 17, 2010 at 09:41 PM Anonymous Says:

What about the 3 yeshiva bechoruim who were snooker to taking suit cases to Japan. These thieves and crooks are looking for the nauve

47

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