Fraudsters Steal $42M From Holocaust Victims' Fund
17 charged in scheme to cheat German government
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 9, 2010 6:17 PM CST
The infamous 'Arbeit Macht Frei' inscription ("Work Makes One Free") stands in the iron work of the entrance to the memorial at the former Sachsenhausen concentration camp in Oranienburg, Germany.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Seventeen people were charged today in Manhattan with defrauding a fund for Holocaust victims out of $42 million, AOL News reports. Employees of a not-for-profit group called the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany approved 5,500 false applications for reparations from the German government to supposed victims of the Third Reich, say authorities. They reportedly split the money with non-employees who posed as the victims.

The fraudsters apparently didn't do a great job of hiding their crimes: claims were filed for individuals who were born after World War II, or weren't Jewish. The red flags formed the basis of an investigation in December 2009, culminating in today's indictments. "If ever there was a cause that you would hope and expect would be immune from base greed and criminal fraud, it would be the Claims Conference, which every day assists thousands of poor and elderly victims of Nazi persecution," said a federal attorney in the case. Click here for more.