Binary options fraudster Lee Elbaz gets sentenced to 22 years in prison

Maria Nikolova

The former CEO of Israel-based Yukom Communications was sentenced for orchestrating a scheme to defraud investors of more than $100 million.

Lee Elbaz, aka Lena Green, the former CEO of the Israel-based company Yukom Communications, a purported sales and marketing company, got sentenced to 22 years in prison on Thursday for orchestrating a scheme to defraud investors of more than $100 million via a binary options scam.

Elbaz was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang of the District of Maryland. On Aug. 7, 2019, after a three-week jury trial, she was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three counts of wire fraud.

The sentence, albeit heavy, is less harsh than the US Government had indicated it would seek initially. Earlier, the US authorities had estimated that the appropriate sentence for Elbaz would have been lifetime imprisonment.

The announcement by the Department of Justice issued on Thursday did not include any details about the financial penalties to be imposed on Elbaz. Victims of the fraudulent scheme are advised to consult the dedicated page on the DOJ’s website.

“Financial criminals like Elbaz and her co-conspirators are interested in one thing: taking money out of the pockets of unsuspecting investors for their own benefit. The FBI is dedicated to identifying and investigating fraud, no matter where the criminals are located, or how long it takes,” said Assistant Director in Charge Timothy R. Slater of the FBI’s Washington’s Field Office. “I’d like to thank our partners in this investigation, specifically the Israeli Police, and to encourage anyone who may have information about binary options fraud to come forward and report it to the FBI.”

According to the evidence presented at trial, Elbaz and her co-conspirators fraudulently sold and marketed binary options to investors located in the United States and throughout the world through two websites, known as BinaryBook and BigOption. The evidence showed that in her role as CEO of Yukom, Elbaz, along with her co-conspirators and subordinates, misled investors using BinaryBook and BigOption by falsely claiming to represent the interests of investors when, in fact, the owners of BinaryBook and BigOption profited when investors lost money; by misrepresenting the suitability of and expected return on investments through BinaryBook and BigOption; by providing investors with false names and qualifications and falsely claiming to be working from London; and by misrepresenting whether and how investors could withdraw funds from their accounts.

Representatives of BinaryBook and BigOption, working under Elbaz’s supervision, misrepresented the terms of so-called “bonuses,” “risk free trades” and “insured trades,” and deceptively used these supposed benefits in a manner that in fact harmed investors, the evidence showed.

Five co-conspirators who worked for Elbaz, including Liora Welles, Shira Uzan, Yair Hadar, Austin Smith, and Lissa Mel, have pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit wire fraud, and have been sentenced. Welles, Uzan, Hadar, and Smith all cooperated against Elbaz and testified at her trial in July 2019. In addition, an indictment charging an additional 15 of Elbaz’s alleged co-conspirators, including Yossi Herzog, was unsealed earlier this year.

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