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Consumer Alert: Rabbi sold fake Torah scrolls


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Rabbi Manachem Youlus, who called himself the "Jewish Indiana Jones," told dramatic tales of rescuing Holocaust-era Torahs. It turns out his stories were all fiction.

"The Torah is something you can't even describe how importance it is, it is the essence of our existence really, so for someone to do such a horrible thing and cause so many people such despair and it's unthinkable, especially in the name of religion," says the victim, who wants to stay anonymous.

The victim says she's still embarrassed by the fact that the restored Torah scroll her family thought they were buying for their father was a total fake.

"First, it was disbelief and shock. So to think this rabbi would do such a thing is unthinkable. Unthinkable. To tell my father would absolutely crush him."

"Postal inspectors found out through research and historical facts, where Rabbi said he found these Torahs it couldn't have been based on his travels," says Donna Harris wit the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Youlus sold the so-called historical Torahs for thousands of dollars to people who believed they were buying history.

"Rabbi Youlus had Torahs but they weren't rescued from the Holocaust, from concentration camps they were Torahs he purchased from Torah dealers here in the U.S.," says Harris.

Buyers lost a total of $1.5 million. Youlus spent some of the money in his personal accounts and on private school tuition for his children.

"It was truly a roller coaster of emotion, from the time we first came across this organization, to the time we gave him the gift it was such a high, to when we found out this was a fraud, which was the depths of despair and then had to go tell him… it really put a cloud over his 75th birthday."

Rabbi Youlus was ultimately found guilty and sentenced to four years in prison. At his sentencing, Youlus aplogized and said he regretted what he did.


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