A trial is set for dozens of individuals charged with extorting money from a Holocaust survivor trust. Among them is a Toronto woman, whose identity was revealed last week by the CBC, Canada’s broadcasting network, after FBI files were uncovered.
Now, media attention is focused on Luba Kramrish, who authorities believe was part of a scheme to falsify documents in an aim to swindle a German survivors fund out of millions of dollars. Some estimates have the total figure of stolen money at $60 million, dispersed amongst co-conspirators.
A court document said: "Kramrish provided documents for approximately 20-25 different cases. [She] helped falsify these applications so that they would be approved."
Kramrish is alleged to have taken a cut of each transaction, with the fraudulent behavior beginning in 2002. While most of the individuals associated with the case were located out of the US, the 56-year-old kept her residence in Canada. US authorities, however, arrested her for a crime that began with the accused’s parent.
Kramrish originally submitted a file on her mother’s behalf, but staff with the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany was unable to approve the petition for assistance funds. Kramirsh took the matter into her own hands, discovering an avenue for falsifying documents, then went on to help others do the same.
Eleven workers with the Claims Conference have also been accused of wrongdoing.
“We were disgusted to learn that people could sink this low,” said Greg Schneider, executive vice-president of the Claims Conference. “It seems incomprehensible. Defies imagination.”
Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara told The Star: “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. Sadly, those victim funds were themselves victimized.”