Lakewood, NJ – Yeshiva Student That Masterminded Of Sweepstakes Scam Arrested

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    Lakewood, NJ – A Lakewood yeshiva student who masterminded a sweepstakes scam has been caught, police said, but the Clifton senior citizen who fell victim to the con is still out $35,700.

    On May 30, a 78-year-old Clifton resident came into police headquarters to report that he had been the victim of a sweepstakes fraud, police Detective Capt. Robert Rowan said Thursday.

    The man said that on May 15 he received a call from a man purporting to be a lawyer named Richard Stevens.

    Stevens told the victim he was the second-place winner in a sweepstakes and had won $500,000.

    To obtain the money, the caller said, he needed to send a security deposit of $8,300 through Federal Express mail to an address in Lakewood.

    The man did so, only to receive a call the next day from an individual who identified himself as Stevens.

    Stevens told the Clifton man that the grand prize winner turned out not to be an American citizen and that he was now the grand prize winner. But now he needed to send $16,600 more for security in order to obtain the $1 million prize.

    The Clifton man complied.

    On May 19, the man received another call from Stevens, who said that a mistake had been made and he needed another $5,000. Later, a man called describing himself as a courier and asking that the man send $3,500 to cover the insurance for the winnings and $2,300 to Toronto for additional insurance.

    The Clifton man complied on all three counts.

    Later in the month, after not receiving any money, he reported the incidents to the police. Clifton Detective Robert Tillie tracked the Federal Express delivery to the Beth Medrash Govoha yeshiva in Lakewood.

    The yeshiva managers cooperated with investigators, who concluded that the man picking up the packages was E. J., a 23-year-old student at the yeshiva.

    Clifton police arrested Mr. J. Wednesday.

    “I would take this opportunity to warn people not to send any kind of money to anyone under any circumstances,” said Rowan. “If you won money, you shouldn’t be paying money.”

    Rowan said the Clifton department is currently working with Lakewood police and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office to see if any of the money can be recovered.

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    81 COMMENTS

    1. You are worried about how is going to get married, you are DUMB as the perpatrator. We should be worried about what is being taught in our religous schools. Instead of teaching young men & women Torah values and how to earn an HONEST living by getting a job, we are teaching them that it is ok for a wife to support the family, that it is ok to mooch of their parents and worst of all it is ok to be involved in get rich schemes and take welfare, food stamps and still wear a Borsalino Hat, with the fanciest of carriges, etc, etc. Get REAL.

    2. if he is rich he will find a good shiduch, money is money,

      if he did it to this guy, you could imagine how many other people got caught up in his scam.

      this man that was fleeced cant be too smart.

    3. Yiddiskeit has completely broken down.Our so called gedolim are only worried about concerts and other shtusim.When are they going to wake up to what’s really going on?

    4. Don’t any of you believe in forgivness? The Suspect if convicted will pay his debt to society, Hopefully ask forgivness from Hashem and the victims and hopefully begin a new life.

    5. I told you, a sucker is born every minute. What was this alta kaker thinking?! They should lock him up for impersonating a person all these years. I wonder how many times Ed McMahon came to his front door, or the bunny, or Claus? Shall I continue?

    6. Quite frankly I don’t feel bad for that idiot who fell for the scam. I have a klal, if anyone calls me to tell me that I have won any type of lottery or sweepstakes, I will tell them, send me the cheque. thats it. If you are so gulable enough as to fall prey to a scam like this, you are a fool and deserve no sympathy.

    7. I am invovled in helping this buchor out and just 2 let u know he was set up by a freind and the police r working as we talk on tracking down the real criminal

    8. Rachmonus – all he wanted was to put away money so that he could stay in Kolel after his chasuna. He was truly sensitive, in that he didn’t want it to fall on his parents and in-laws. He surely wasn’t going to be chas v’sholom a “balle bus” and chalila go to work – then his kids wouldn’t be able to get into a yeshiva in Lakewood. I am sure you understand. Good chinuch!

    9. I heard this all b4. when it comes to a frum guy he is alays innocent and always set up. No matter how henious the crime is whether it is scamming, molesting, phony doctors, they are always innocent. The only real criminals are goyim. We are all perfect . When will everyone wake up and smell the cofee .

    10. he was told there was tzedaka money money coming 2 yeshivas address and all he had 2 do was pick it up from the mail room and give it 2 some1 in lakewood

    11. LIES LIES LIES!!! the goyishe anti semitic media together with the zionists has once again aimed to defile our holy Torah institutions!

      This boy is innocent! Yeshiva boys in Lakewood dont do such things!

    12. I have no idea whether or not this bochur is guilty, and indeed we have a chiyuv to judge him favorably. That said, it would not be surprising to hear such a story, as the Talmud tells out in black and white – “One who does not teach his son a trade, it is as though he has taught him thievery.” But apparently some people think they know better than Chazal.

    13. It behooves us to increase the vigilance we already observe to ever decrease the amount of exposure to the outside world. That way, when charlatans of any ilk show up with sob stories or wild claims, we can be victimized.

    14. I’m glad BMG cooperated in catching this creep, and didn’t have any misguided notions of it being “mesira” or “chilul Hashem” as so many other misguided do-gooders have.

    15. what a chilul hashem when will people learn to educate themselves and their kids 1)not to do favors for people not only in the airport 2) an education to get a job 3)and if they wanto do somthig wrong not endanger the whole community

    16. FACT this bachur was doing a favor for someone eo asked him to pick up a letter from the BMG mailroom he was used by the sick people that are running this scam he is innocent and is being consulted by rabbanim how to deal with the authorities.evreything else is just lies and fabrications he was cleared b y the cops watch your words think of it as if someone in your immidiete family was used as a pawn in a scam.

    17. wait for all the facts.

      the bochour is a 100% INNOCENT.

      he is only guilty of being a tmimusdicker .

      in the meantime dont do favors if you don’t

      know everrything.

    18. if the velt will stop glorifying people with lots of money , these types of stories would happen less frequently. Money comes from Hashem only ,not through hard labor, being smart, agressive etc. If a person has a lot of money it doesnt mean he is doing the rotzon Hashem any ways. We do not see how or why Hashem grants money , more or less to someone . So wealth shouldnt give a person any more respect than his poor neighbor. Ashirus D’kidusha is a different story.

    19. This guy and his Lakewood neighbor Ernie really made a terrible Chillul Hashem for which there is zero kappora, hard as that may be for people to hear. I just hope that sliver of hope some of you are posting is true, that he may have been set up, for his soul’s sake. I don’t think we can say the same for Ernie though.

    20. Old people are vurnable to this kind of scams.

      Advice:1.Shut the phone down immedeatly 2.Dont let anybody in your house unless you ordered him or he has an proven id.

    21. The real criminal is the one who used this innocent bochur, knowing well that he would do anything to help out a tzeddaka. The question is who is this crook? Does he belong to the yeshiva community? He is the one deserving the punishment. It is a terrible chillul Hashem. When he is caught he should be made to pay back every penny to his victim. Of course, if one is told he won a sweepstakes, he shouldn’t even think of shelling out anything to collect his winnings. That alone should make him suspect it as being a fraud. (Also at the airport never take packages from strangers even if they look frum, it could be drugs and you’ll be the one they arrest.)

    22. 1, Don’t blame the victim. It can happen to anybody that lives longer than their mental abilities.

      2, If indeed the bocher is a victim it shows that real morons can and do thrive at BMG. Any fool or crook can go to BMG.

      3, Do you really need a psak to allow you to cooperate with the Police in this type of case. I would think that when you are essentially being framed for something you did not do it is not mesira and you should cooperate.

      This not Psak is recomended for me only and you do what ever you feel is right.

    23. When I was in Lakewood (35 years ago) we didn’t think up these kinds of scams, (especially moving him into the 1st prize)! Kol hakovod! I’m calling my Trust Atty to increase my bequest to BMG! Good “chopp”!

    24. 1:31, you are so nice. I bet when you turn 78 you may get duped too. It comes with the territory. Elderly people are more vulnerable than young people.

    25. Don’t blame the victim, there is no heter to steal from dummies in my shulchan aruch. Five years ago we had a nice recently married yungleman take a suit case to Paris via his trip to Israel and Yeshiva learning and he was given a free ticket or two to hand over the suitcase in the airport. Yep it was full of cocaine, he and his pregnant wife went to jail. I think they let her out before she gave birth but he sat around three years. Being a patsy or putting your head in the ground will not work in court. Unfortunately from my line of business I know unzerer chevra think the FBI and police are no smarter than the local auto mechanic. That is until they get arrested.

    26. Obviously, no one here has ever taken care of an elderly person who has impaired functioning. Get with it, older people become impaired. It is the responsibility of children to make sure they are not taken by housekeepers, lawyers, and cranks. It is a challenge to do so while still being mechabed one’s parents. Everyone that commented on the stupidity of the 78 year old should go out and do some chessed. Visit some nursing homes, hospital icu’s. Don’t just leave it to the high school girls. I for one am horrified and would join up with 99 others to give $357 to try to undo this horrific horrific chillul Hashem. We should be marbeh kavod shamayim not darshening about how stupid the guy is.. How about it? There are 42 comments thus far.. Vos Iz Neias editor, do you want to coordinate? This could be the whole tachlis of your website, umi yodeah im laAis kazos…

    27. MR./MS. Anon. 1:09PM You have great ideas of how to improve the [Torah] world. But, did you [ever] learn to spell [English]?!?!?! CARRIAGE/S is spelled thusly, NOT CARRIGES!!!

    28. to me this is simple…Daas Torah or not, people who get their salary from a communal organization are by definition, Nogaih Bdavar and their judgment HAS TO CONFIRMED by a board with no vested financial interest.

    29. This guy made a terrible Chillul Hashem, why should you daven for him more than anyone else? Let him pay the price if he’s guilty. He’s responsible for a massive Chillul Hashem that he should pay for, as he makes all frum Jews look bad.

    30. And about 2 years ago there was a Lakewood bochur that was found to be leading a double life.

      How do bochurim get into BMG? THere are so many fine young bochurim who have a total geshmak for learning and they can’t get in but some bumbs manage to get in.

      How does this happen? Could it be that BMG only accepts people based on how rich their parents are?

      Rabbi Kotler is proabbly rolling in his grave because this is NOT what he dreamed of and not what he wanted lakewoood to become.

      Lakewood has become an impossible place to bring up honest people.

    31. I think we all must larn from the gr tzedk story in lakwood everyone jumped to believe it & he was truly a yid so let’s all look as tthe torah teaches us ” heva dan as kul adom lcaf zchus “it s proven again & again not just to think liike that BUT ALSO TO BE THE TRU OUTCOME AGAIN & AGAIN…and for all of you who need something to make atumil with sorry for I am certaiin this would not end up to bee as juicy as you want SO JUST GO OUT & BUY A NOVEL SORRRRY.

    32. I can’t believe how many excuses come out of you people. Everytime there is a chassid in trouble with the law you are so quick to make so many excuses as to why they are innocent.

    33. LIES LIES LIES!!! the goyishe anti semitic media together with the zionists has once again aimed to defile our holy Torah institutions!

      For sure the ZIONIST cops in Lakewood have been up to trouble again.

    34. Many ppl here are behaving like the 78 years old guy

      how could u think that if someone is so smart to take away 37k like this, is going to recieve packages from FE in the Yeshivah

      come on!

      the bocher is innocent , he was used

    35. I do not know who this buchur is, neither was I ever in BMG. But please before you make any judgement, I urge you to read my story:

      Many years ago when I was an innocent 15 year old buchur, traveling my first time to my yeshivah in Europe, a person who is a TOYAN (lawyer), whom I knew and my parents knew very well, came over to us in the airport and told us that he had an unbelievable story in the makings…He just got a GET (divorce)for a women who is an AGINAH for 12 years and he has the GET with him, and I can have the great Mitzvah of being the shliach to take the GET to the women who is now in EUROPE.he even pulled out a picture of the husband… and we were so excited with this story..Because my parents knew this TOYAN very well we did not think twice, and I was so excited as I just finished learning the whold SIGYA of sHlichus…. And I took the package and slippedit in to my carry on…Of course he asked us to keep it quiet… The GET was in a BIG yelloe envelope and I did not take my eyes off it for a second…..As soon as I walked out from the airport 2 “very nervous” pepole approached me and grabbed the get from me. A few weeks later I couldn’t hold back this big secret.. And I tell my friend about my great mitzvah… Slowly but surely it turned out that their were approximitly 20 GITIN send with innocent bucherim on my flight….in a city in europe that had a get happening once in 12 years….NISIM that we were not cought!

      Now go ahead and judge this bucher

    36. While I will not pass judgement on the bochur, compare this story to Rubashkin and the vitriol that was hurled at Rubashkin, even though there is not single charge pending against him. To reiterate, Rubashkin should have been addressed as this bochur was, not condemned in the absence of conviction or even charges being filed, so, yes, if you attacked Rubashkin, you are a sonei yisroel, anti-semitic, dirt bag… and have a nice day.

    37. Why is this so complicated ? If this buchur is innocent and just went to pick up an envelope for someone he will tell the authorities who sent him

      and they will get the culprit. I just hope that the Yeshiva co-operates fully and even helps to get to the bottom of this. I don’t think there is any mitzva to cover for the gangsters behind this scheme especially as they are sullying the reputation of the Yeshiva with this gross chilul Hashem.

    38. noone was arrested e j only picked up mail for a israeli boy that learned once in bmg, but currently is not in bmg. e j was questioned but not arrested he is a good serious boy. what we learn is that we can’t even do the simplest of a favor to nobody. its just too dangerous

    39. everybody says that the media and the old man is guilty and crazy ,people get cheated every day ,

      but the bochur is not guilty because he was naive

      the same like the bachurim from Japan neboch

      i know one of the family of that bochur he knew exactly what he did he was trying to help the family for one time they should have money for pesach real neboch but a jew should never do that no matter how much he needs money

      but if it would be a none frum jew right away he would be labeled diferent

      i think it is comming from the chinoch what you get and the way we leave beyond are means then we can steel and rob and deal with drugs and then become a rachmones

      that is why klal israel has so much tzures lo alenu

      less did vedayan nobody will say anything and there is no respect for no raw because there is no daas torah that we respect

    40. The money was sent to BMG it is considered a donation and hekdish, and he should be a big boy about it and be happy that he gave 35,000.00 to a very worthy cause perhaps the bochur gave the money to a gemach ot tomche shabbos, even if it was under false petenses, The ribono shel oilam firzach der velt the cash was meant to change hands. What was his is now thiers and that is it!

    41. New sab- dont be so frum!! just be honest and straight!! its sad that ppl dont know anymore whats right and whats wrong they turn every wrong action into a lshem shomayim mitzva! just think straight!!

    42. IMHO, the stupidity of the bochurim today is directly caused by the fact that there is no longer a decent secular education give by any of the right wing yeshivas. When was the last time you heard a yeshiva bochur speak an english sentence without at least one yeshivish word in it? Parents, remember, your tuition is for limudei kodesh AND secular studies. DEMAND BOTH!!

    43. NEWSAB – it’s because of idiots like you that these things happen to us! Instead of recognizing the fact that this was completely wrong, you turn it into a mitzvah. Let me guess: you’re of the opinion that working is assur? Almost as assur as concerts?

      And I just want to repeat a comment made earlier: if it were a YU boy, nobody would be defending him, you’d all be ripping him to shreds!

    44. Newsab was just joking, can’t you all understand that???

      And if this kid is innocent, why was he portrayed as the “mastermind” as opposed to merely being involved?

    45. And if this kid is innocent, why was he portrayed as the “mastermind” as opposed to merely being involved?

      Because that type of headline sells more papers . If the Headline read ” Person who picked up mail was called in for questioning ” it would not sound so interesting . Dont belive everything you read in the papers .. The NY Times was still reporting the Gaza blast last week as a disputed act long after Hamas admitted that it was a work accident . So much for honesty in the media

    46. Stop the nonsense.

      If the Yeshiva Bochur was so silly to fall for this scam then he should (and will) lead authorities to the real culprit. The money must be returned to the victim; this is the only way to go. What idioticy to call the $ “hekdesh”? Let someone grab some money from that guy who called it ‘zedakah to the yeshiva’ and donate it there; see if he will protest?

      Enough said.

    47. You are all a bunch of bored people. We should actually stop judging other people and sticking noses where they don’t belong and instead work on perfecting ourselves and our helping our families.

    48. i happened 2 know the guy who masterminded this whole thing. the authorities are looking for him. a young bochur as well. he officially is out of the country. its very sad that he made such a terrible mistake. he feels very bad. he thought it was a quick way 2 make money from a non-jew. he’s really a very nice guy. he made a very big mistake. he regrets it. people should have hearts open for him. he’s in real big trouble.

    49. It’s funny how many of you are so eagerly just saying what was always on your mind. Nothing about this story changed anybody’s mind. Those of you who hate Yeshiva and the Torah world, will blame anything on whatever you have against them.

      I don’t think it is time to stop doing favors for people. This is not the message that the RBSH”O is trying to send our Dohr. Yes, do favors, but screw on your head. Besides, if this guy is innocent then he won’t land up in jail. It is not that hard a case to prove.

      As for the “nice guy”, before blaming it on the Rebbe or Roshei Yeshiva or the “concert-Gedolim”, how about human nature? The Torah never promised to take away free will (until Moshiach, at least). There is no Chiyuv/reason to believe that any Yid will never do aveiros, either. Some people just do bad things, sometimes.

      “He thought it was a quick way 2 make money from a non-jew.”

      This though is a very bothersome statement for it speaks a very warped thinking.

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