Dozens of families were shocked to discover that a Russian claiming to be their long-lost cousin fooled people for ten years.
Bechadrei Chareidim initially issued an emotional report that the prominent Brown-Shisha family of Meah Shearim had been contacted by a Jacobs Brown from Russia, son of their uncle Chaim Brown who was thought to have died in World War II, and that he was about to come to Israel for an emotional reunion.
Chaim survived the war in a Russian camp, Jacobs said. Although his feet had to amputated, he married and had a son.
But before his arrival, the family discovered that at least two overseas families were approached by the same man. After “Brown’s” arrival in Israel, they went along with his story and plied him with questions for an hour-and-a-half to probe his mode of operation before showing him a photo of him sent by the two US families he has deceived for years.
Admitting that he was no relative, the fraudster said that a dybbuk was speaking from within him and that the information he knew was revealed to him by the dybbuk.
Grabbing his belongings, he attempted to flee, but was forcibly retained until he revealed his identity and location. It turned out that the fraudster got his facts from the Yad Vashem archives and various genealogical sites.