N.Y. Residents Charged in $1M Scam

June 26, 2003

New Jersey’s Attorney General Peter Harvey announced that the Division of Criminal Justice – Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor has charged five New York residents with attempting to collect nearly $975,000 as part of an insurance fraud scam designed to cash-in on a million dollar insurance policy.

According to Vaughn McKoy, Director, Division of Criminal Justice and Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden Brown, Mitchell Markowitz, 37 of Brooklyn; Sol Zaltz, of Brooklyn; Yehudah Berger, of Brooklyn; Sam Nisser, 49 of Spring Valley; and David Nisser, of Monsey, were charged in a State Grand Jury indictment with conspiracy and attempted theft by deception (2nd degree offenses). If convicted on all charges, the defendants face up to 20 years in state prison and fines up to $300,000. In addition, each faces the possibility of civil insurance fines pursuant to the Insurance Fraud Prevention Act.

Prosecutor Brown noted that the State Grand Jury indictment alleges that between January, 1998 and January, 1999, the defendants conspired to purchase 20,000 pieces of inexpensive costume jewelry, to produce phony receipts, to store the jewelry in a warehouse, and to purposely damage the jewelry in order to collect on the insurance policy. The warehouse, located at 345 Nye Ave., Irvington, Essex County, was insured by Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company for $1 million. According to the indictment, Markowitz, a licensed public insurance adjuster, submitted an inflated insurance claim in the amount of $973,638 to Fireman’s Fund.

As part of the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor’s continuing investigation, Solomon Bouzaglou, owner of Exquisite Gems, Inc. and Joseph Benlolo, purchaser of the jewelry, pleaded guilty on March 12 before Essex County Superior Court Judge Harold J. Fullilove to separate Accusations which charged conspiracy and attempted theft by deception. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 8, 2003.

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