CON ARTIST WHO TARGETED MUSLIMS EXTRADITED TO U.S.

CON ARTIST WHO TARGETED MUSLIMS EXTRADITED TO U.S.

CAIR ACTION ALERT #483

CON ARTIST WHO TARGETED MUSLIMS EXTRADITED TO U.S.
Victims worldwide urged to help prosecutors build their case

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 1/24/2006) - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today announced that an alleged con artist who targeted Muslims has been extradited from Canada to the United States to face federal charges. CAIR also called on victims of the "stranded traveler" scam to provide any information that may be useful to prosecutors in the case.

Mohammed Agbareia made an initial appearance Monday in U.S. District Court in Alabama on charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. FBI officials say a co-defendant, Zouhair Hissy, was arrested in Canada on January 4. The two men were indicted by a federal grand jury in Mobile, Ala., for trying to bilk a local Islamic center out of $1500 using a scam that relied on the Islamic tradition of helping travelers in distress.

SEE:
Canada Returns Suspect in Fraud Case

The alleged con-artist's primary method of operation was to place phone calls claiming to be a well-known Muslim leader, official or scholar stranded at an airport after his money, passport and tickets had been stolen or lost. He would ask the intended victim, typically a leader or activist in a local Muslim community, to wire cash through MoneyGram or Western Union to help him out of the crisis. After receiving the funds, he would disappear.

In May of last year, CAIR called on Canadian authorities to apprehend and extradite Agbareia and Hissy. CAIR said it has been receiving reports about Agbareia's scam for many years and had issued a number of alerts to the Muslim community in this country and worldwide. Agbareia, who is apparently an Israeli citizen, was arrested in 2002 by Canadian authorities but was later released.

"All those individuals and institutions targeted in the 'stranded traveler' con should now provide information to prosecutors so they can build their case based on the evidence built up over almost 20 years," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.

Over the years, Awad and CAIR worked with law enforcement authorities in a number of countries in an effort to bring the alleged con artists to justice. He said Muslims worldwide have been defrauded of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of dollars.

ACTION REQUESTED: All those who believe they were targeted by the "stranded traveler" scam should send information about their case to: Special Agent Tom Montgomery, FBI Mobile, 200 North Royal Street, Mobile, Alabama, 36602

Tel: (251) 438-3674
E-Mail: cdahle@leo.gov
Copy to: ihooper@cair-net.org

CAIR, America's largest Muslim civil liberties group, has 31 offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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