A Toronto rabbi who fled the U.S. five years ago is accused of being the ringleader of a massive immigration fraud mill in the United States that charged as much as $30,000 per client and earned millions in illegal funds.
Rabbi Avraham David, whose real name is Earl Seth David, was arrested Tuesday while walking near his house in North York.
“It’s one of the largest scams in American history,” said Toronto police Det. Rick Mooney. “We got the warrant and confirmed he was living where he was.”
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says it has identified at least 25,000 immigration applications submitted by David’s former Manhattan law firm, most of which have been determined to contain fraudulent information.
U.S. authorities allege David ran the multi-million dollar operation from a Manhattan law office from 1996 to early 2009.
The accused allegedly continued to operate the scheme from behind the scenes after he was suspended from practising law in the State of New York in 2004, authorities say.
David fled to Toronto in 2006 and continued to funnel money to a Canadian bank account, U.S. authorities allege.
Those funds were siphoned through a bank account in the name of a biblical treatise he had authored entitled “Code of the Heart,” authorities allege.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says David used his Manhattan law office to submit falsified immigration applications that claimed U.S. companies had sponsored the applicants for employment.
David and 11 others were charged, bringing to 27 the number of individuals who have been charged in connection with the scheme.
The scheme was “stunning in its scope and audacity,” said U.S. attorney Preet Bharara in a news release.
Among those also charged are former employees of David’s law office, who are accused of creating fake documents to support the fraudulent immigration applications; phony “sponsors” who agreed to falsely represent that they were sponsoring aliens for employment, and accountants who created fake tax returns for fictitious sponsor companies.
A U.S. Department of Labor employee is also accused of assisting in the scheme.
They face charges including mail fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Each charge carries up to 20 years in prison.
David faces an additional charge with conspiracy to commit money laundering, which also carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
David, 47, was arrested Tuesday by the Toronto police fugitive squad while walking near his house.
David is a Canadian citizen, so he can’t be automatically deported.
He is being held at the Metro West Detention Centre while American authorities seek his extradition to face charges in the United States.