Jerusalem – Two Israeli men have been arrested in connection with an extortion scheme involving Haredi men.
Cousins Yehonatan Elroi and Ehud Benisti concocted a plot to surreptitiously photograph Haredi men who frequented the Amsterdam nightclub in Tel Aviv, according to a report in Maariv (http://bit.ly/TxK0Dd).
Elroi and Benisti would follow the men home to learn where they lived and then call the men to blackmail them into paying large sums of money to prevent the photographs from being leaked.
The pair was arrested in a sting operation last month after a married father of two received the threatening phone call from the duo and decided to contact the police. The unidentified target said he was in the middle of singing songs after lighting Chanukah candles when he got the call.
“In that moment, my blood ran cold and my head began to spin,” the victim said. “I saw my whole world destroyed before me. [I saw] my wife divorcing me and my children expelled from their schools. It doesn’t matter what I actually did in the nightclub. In our extreme community, such a thing is the end of you.” After receiving the call demanding $20,000, the victim contacted Dudi Zilbershlag – a well-known Haredi businessman who was blackmailed by a young woman after he was videotaped in a “compromising position” in a hotel room in 2011 – for advice. Zilbershlag told the victim to contact the police.
The police told the target to arrange to meet Elroi and Benisti and offer them $7,200 in exchange for the photographs. When the men showed up to claim the money, the police arrested them following a brief chase.