Hogeg, Strugano & Barak: Alleged Fraudsters


    Financial crime has been an ongoing problem for Israeli financial regulators & the criminal justice system. Last year more than 38 different people sued Israel-based companies for alleged financial crimes such as forex, binary options, and crypto fraud. Individuals from multiple countries, including Australia, Azerbaijan, Germany, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Norway, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States claimed that they were deceived by fraudsters. 

    On the 18th of November 2021, Israeli Police arrested Moshe Hogeg on suspicion of 21 different offenses, including fraud related to cryptocurrency projects, falsifying corporate documentation, money laundering, and sexual offenses. Moshe, along with Adi Sheleg, Avishai Ziv, and seven others are accused of having conned victims out of hundreds of millions of dollars. Investigators raided their homes, offices, and the Beitar Jerusalem training complex confiscating computers and seizing documents.

    Moshe Hogeg is a prominent Israeli businessman and entrepreneur, who launched various ventures ranging from Mobli, a mobile photo and video-sharing website, to Singulariteam, an investment fund specializing in various cryptocurrency projects, especially initial coin-offerings (ICOs). Most famously he is also the owner of the notorious Israeli football team Beitar Jerusalem. None of these ventures have been without controversy. 

    Hogeg managed to raise more than $350 million from investors for his ICOs, according to the FinTelegram website. However, the projects never performed as promised, often disappearing without a trace or explanation. Former employees, partners, and suppliers have repeatedly sued Hogeg for alleged fraud, non-payment, and appropriation of funds in recent years.

    He allegedly scammed investors under the guise of his several cryptocurrency start-ups. Moshe and the other suspects presented false information and profits to clients to further attract potential investors in numerous cryptocurrencies. These allegedly fake reports convinced investors to further invest and were then used to bait other high-net-worth individuals to join the ventures; (Sirin Labs, Stx Technologies Limited (Stox), Leadcoin, and PumaPay.)

    Another notable player in the Israeli financial scam scene is Moshe Strugano. Strugano is known by word of mouth for providing legal advice to fraudulent forex and binary options trading schemes. His ability in legitimizing financial crooks is thought to be his professional draw for criminals. Some of the services that Strugano is presumed to offer include the structuring of fraudulent organizations, the construction of offshore organizations, corporate structures, and bank accounts. 

    Moshe Strugano claims to not have been a part of any scam and instead solely provided legal advice for organizations that needed to register, open bank accounts, and be connected as a merchant with payment service providers. This might be believable if it had been a one-time issue, however Strugano has facilitated and enabled binary and forex scammers not only in Israel but around the world, as evidenced by his repeated appearance in the Panama Papers leak. Yet he has remained unscathed while his employers, accomplices, and partners are either on the run or have been arrested, like Jack Wygodski or Avi Iskovich. 

    Finally, Gal Barak, 34, otherwise known as, “The Wolf of Sofia”, defrauded tens of thousands of victims out of more than €200 million, primarily from European retirees. 

    According to Barak, Ilan Tzorya is the real “Wolf of Sofia.” Barak claims that Ilan served many different Israeli customers, setting up Forex brands for them. Ilan subsequently provided his clients with everything they would need: the trading software, internet advertising engines, licenses, and even legal opinions. Barak explained how Tzorya would take care of everything, offering a ‘Plug and Play’ service. Most customers found the sites following aggressive advertising on the internet and social networks, which guaranteed them high and quick returns on low-risk investment.

    Ilan Tzorya is based in Sofia and founded the online binary trading platform Tradologic in 2009. Together in 2015 Gal Barak and Ilan Tzorya began to weave a highly sophisticated network of websites that encouraged investors to buy into binary trading options, foreign currencies, cryptocurrencies, and a variety of high-risk financial products. According to the authorities, call centers were launched in Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Ukraine among other places. 

    At Barak’s trial, authorities showed how Barak and his partners built a sophisticated system, which included dozens of shell companies around the world with dozens of bank accounts, mostly in Bulgaria. The directors registered with the shell companies were mostly Eastern European citizens, and usually, power of attorney was also given in the accounts to Barak and his wife.

    The arrest of Moshe Hogeg sets a clear precedent for other criminals, while for victims of such crimes, it seems as if Israeli authorities are taking the initiative and reacting to the environment that has allowed such crime networks to proliferate. Currently, Israeli authorities are continuing their investigations into Israel’s financial crime network as new information, victims, and suspects continually appear, and authorities seek to investigate. We can only hope that all perpetrators will ultimately be brought to face justice. 

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