By Yuval Goren, Haaretz Correspondent
The Tel Aviv police fraud squad arrested on Sunday nine Israelis on suspicion of netting millions of dollars from U.S. pensioners in a so-called Nigerian scam.
Police raided an office in the city, which is suspected to have been the nerve center of the dodgy enterprise. The defendants, all in their 20s and 30s, allegedly phoned American pensioners, told them they had won the lottery and asked them for a fee of several thousand dollars for the transfer of the prize money, which in fact never existed.
The investigation has been conducted in conjunction with U.S. law enforcement agencies.
Last week, it was reported that the American agencies had urged Israel Police to step up the extradition procedure of another ten Israelis who were suspected of scamming $2 million in similar means.
Most of the ten defendants in the advance-fee scam, which was unveiled by police last September, are in their early twenties, without a criminal record.
The first hearing in their extradition plea took place last week, after a New York law enforcement official said many of the victims are old and frail, and urged the Israeli police to bring the alleged offenders to imminent justice.