An Israeli-born businessman that owns a number of shopping mall sales kiosks in several U.S. states was among 10 Israelis indicted for illegally employing 140 Israeli nationals to sell Dead Sea beauty products.
Omer Gur-Geiger, 36, was indicted this week for bringing illegal workers into the United States on B-2 tourist visas, failing to report their work to the IRS, and irregularities with their payment. The resident of Raleigh, North Carolina, is further accused of helping several Israelis file false applications to extend their tourist visas.
Nine other men and women were indicted Friday in a Virginia federal court. All are employees of a North Carolina-registered company, Stanga, which operates mall kiosks selling products said to be made from Dead Sea minerals under the "All That’s Natural" label.
The indictment alleges that Stanga and other businesses managed by Gur-Geiger were part of the Israeli company Rasco.
According to the WRAL report, FBI agents tracked more than $14 million in sales over the past five years, and prosecutors have asked the court to collect that sum from the company’s assets.
“The object of the conspiracy was for the co-conspirators to use the proceeds of their conspiracy to defraud and commit offenses against the United States to transport foreign nationals on B-2 visas to the United States for the purpose of those foreign nationals on B-2 visas engaging in work, and to pay, house, and transport those foreign nationals on B-2 visas once they were in the United States,” according to the indictment.
The WRAL news site reported that Gur-Geiger was charged with 34 counts of conspiracy to defraud the United States, visa fraud, encouraging and inducing illegal entry, harboring illegal aliens, transporting illegal aliens and conspiracy to launder money.
The young Israeli salespeople are known to be aggressive in their sales pitch – they grab customers passing by their kiosks and often coerce them into buying overpriced products, many in an attempt to make money as quickly as possible to fund post-army travels.
Yet this maneuver coupled with the fact that many of them are working illegally, have raised suspicions at the FBI, US Homeland Security, and embassies around the globe trying to combat labor fraud, and questionable sales tactics.
The other nine named in the indictment are Boaz Ben Cnaan, Shlomo Genish, Zion Sason, Eyal Katz, Rita Berkovich, Ido Rodes, Guy Mazon, Shimon Mizrahi and Shai Yona.