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Monday, July 14, 2014

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Alleged subway scammer facing nearly 70 charges

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Israel Aharanovitz

TORONTO — Alleged subway fraudster Israel Aharanovitz remains in custody as police receive increasing numbers of calls from victims.

As of Jan. 23, some 60 to 70 people had come forward with complaints of being scammed, said Det. James Turnbull of the Toronto Police Service.

“I’ve never had that many,” he said.

One of the calls came from a woman who recalled a run-in with Aharanovitz in New York City in 1987 or 1989.

“She remembered he scammed her before,” Turnbull said.

Given the volume of calls he’s received, he still hasn’t been able to return them all, he added.

So far, Aharnovitz, 63, faces nearly 70 charges of fraud under $5,000.

Police allege he targeted mostly women in the Jewish community while in subway stations.

“He purported to be a visitor from Israel then asked for a loan to help him out of a financial dilemma,” police allege. “The victims would turn over a quantity of money to the man.”

The sums ranged from $40 to $1,000.

Aharanovitz, a native of Israel, was arrested Jan. 9 at the Glencairn subway station after police saw him approach several women. Initially, he was charged with four counts of fraud under $5,000.

Police believed there were more victims, and appeals to the public resulted in the large number of people responding with information about the suspect, Turnbull said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-1300, or to call Crimestoppers at 416-222-TIPS (8477). They can also go online at www.222tips.com, text TOR and leave a message to CRIMES (274637).

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