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