‘Most wanted’ fugitive to face charges in land scam
Detroit — A New York man who fled to Spain amid an investigation into a $20 million telemarketing scheme involving Detroit real estate has been extradited to the United States, officials said Friday.
Erez Arsoni, 34, who was on the State Department’s most wanted list, will face charges in Detroit and Florida over the alleged scheme and for using a fraudulent passport to flee to Spain.
He was arrested in Marbella, Spain, in May. Details on his return to the U.S. were not available.
“The federal government has the ability to reach defendants who flee to many countries overseas,” U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a statement Friday. “By using all of the worldwide law enforcement resources available to us, we can bring to justice individuals who commit crimes against victims in Michigan.”
Arsoni traveled to Spain before being charged last November and accused of managing the telemarketing operation’s call center in New York. He allegedly solicited investors, using one of five aliases, federal prosecutors said.
He also helped create holding companies and shell buyers, according to the indictment.
Telemarketers would make unsolicited calls to people nationwide, trying to convince them to buy single-family homes in Detroit, prosecutors allege.
The telemarketers allegedly lied about the homes’ value and said the properties were bank-owned homes that earlier had mortgages worth several times more than the current sales price.
But the homes were purchased, typically, for $500 or less before being flipped to victims for between $7,500 and $15,000, the indictment alleges.
Telemarketers told the buyers the home was quickly sold to a hedge fund or foreign buyer for a big profit. Instead, the homes were transferred to a shell company controlled by the telemarketers, prosecutors say.
In all, the alleged scheme involved more than 290 victims in 46 states and Canada.
If convicted of charges that include conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit international money laundering, Arsoni faces up to 20 years in federal prison.
To date, 11 people have pleaded guilty in the case and federal agents have seized more than $1 million.