Thousands Duped In Uman Airline Ticket Scandal
Over 2,000 Israelis have been hit hard in a scandal in which they were sold fake tickets to Uman in the Ukraine.
Tens of thousands of Hasidic Jews make a pilgrimage over the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, to the grave of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, who is the founder of the Breslov movement and the grandson of the Baal Shem Tov who founded Hasidic Judaism.
It’s believed that three men, two of whom are allegedly owners of the Europanim travel agency, took the money from paid for tickets and never transferred it to the various airline representatives abroad.
At the time they had purchased $1.3 million worth of tickets, then cancelled the tickets last minute and did not return the money to those who had paid.
In August, the company advertised cheap tickets to Uman for Rosh Hashanah costing $695.
Customers were then informed the day before the flight that Europanim was unable to fulfill its part in the transaction and the tickets canceled.
Some of the customers had bought several tickets and were forced to repurchase tickets from other airlines at higher prices.
The Israel Police said on Tuesday that three people had so far been arrested in connection with the scandal including the two owners of the travel agency. A third was arrested at Ben-Gurion Airport on Monday while trying to flee the country.
The police said they became aware of the scandal after several people came forward to report the incident.
“It’s believed that the money accumulated by the three suspects was not transferred to the airline’s representative abroad and that they misappropriated those funds, using them for their own personal benefit,” the police said in a statement. “The suspects were brought in for questioning on suspicion of fraud under aggravated circumstances, forgery with intent to do fraud, money laundering and other offenses.”
The three will remain in custody as investigations continue.
The police have also appealed to the members of the public who were affected to come forward and press charges.