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December 19, 2017Phoenix, AZ, United StatesFinancial Crimes

Former Phoenix real estate investor and reality TV personality sentenced to 17 years in federal prison for multiple fraud schemes

At more than $33 million, it is the single largest embezzlement case in Arizona history

PHOENIX — A former reality TV show personality and real estate investor was sentenced Tuesday to 17 years in federal prison for orchestrating multiple fraud schemes resulting in more than $33 million in losses.

Yomtov Scott Menaged, 40, of Phoenix, was sentenced Dec. 19 by U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow.  Menaged had previously pleaded guilty in October to charges of bank fraud, money laundering, and aggravated identity theft. The court also ordered Menaged to serve 36 months of supervised release after he completes his prison term; he must also pay $33,558,407.76 restitution to the various victims. 

The case against Menaged resulted from a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) probe against the defendant who operated a real estate investment business as well as retail furniture stores. According to court documents, Menaged embezzled millions in loans meant for real estate purchases.  He also provided fake real estate purchase documents to conceal the fraud. Menaged used the embezzled money to support his lavish lifestyle that included travel, million-dollar homes, and luxury vehicles.

When Menaged no longer had access to the embezzled funds, he orchestrated an elaborate identity theft scheme involving purported customers of his various retail furniture stores. Menaged obtained the names and personal identification information of recently deceased individuals and used their information to submit fake credit applications from his furniture stores to various banks. In fact, no real furniture purchases ever took place. The ID theft scheme resulted in more than $2 million in losses to the banks.

“Menaged engaged in a multi-year fraud scheme and brazenly stole from his victims — their money, their identities, and ultimately their trust,” stated First Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth A. Strange. “Today’s lengthy sentence is a fitting punishment for his egregious crimes.”

“While the harm and damage the defendant caused by swindling more than $33 million from innocent investors can never be repaired, the 200-plus victims can now take some small measure of satisfaction that he is now looking at 17 years in federal prison and a substantial forfeiture as repayment for his crimes.” said Scott Brown, special agent in charge of HSI Phoenix. “HSI special agents dedicated to uncovering financial fraud will continue to aggressively investigate those who seek to profit by taking advantage of others.”

“The criminal conduct by defendant Menaged was extensive. His actions caused personal and financial harm to many individuals, including his former business partner,” stated IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Ismael Nevarez Jr. “The sentence is very appropriate based on the $33 million loss from his fraud scheme and the tragic human suffering he caused.”

The Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation division assisted investigating this case.

The prosecution was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Monica B. Edelstein and Kevin M. Rapp; and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer A. Giaimo, District of Arizona.

Updated: 12/21/2017