The Economy Ministry is seeking to crack down on companies that take advantage of economically weaker individuals and families by offering them, often with a phone call, loans that require usurious levels of interest to pay back, or “miracle products” that are supposed to resolve a wide variety of medical problems, but actually do not work. The Ministry is developing a plan that will sharply increase sanctions against organizations that do this kind of thing. The plan will also criminalize the activity, meaning that repeat offenders could find themselves facing criminal penalties, including additional jail time.
According to research by the Ministry, many of the organizations that engage in such activities are run by “serial con artists,” who close crooked companies when authorities get close, and open new ones under different names. Among the sanctions in the plan will be denying a business license to these serial offenders, thus ensuring that they will be unable to continue their activities.
The range of offenses that con artists can be convicted for have been widened as well. Jail time for those convicted of misleading consumers with the intention of stealing from them will be increased from one year to two. In addition, if the person that has been harmed is elderly or disabled, offenders could be sentenced to five years in prison. Authorities will have the right to seize assets of these organizations and return them to offended parties.
In addition, workers in these organizations will be liable to prosecution. “All those associated with these companies, including managers, owners, and employees should realize that they will be subject to criminal charges and penalties,” Economy Minister Eli Cohen said, commenting on the new plan. “Beyond fines and penalties, individuals may find themselves in prison. I expect that this will deter many from engaging in these activities.”