Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Carmel on the Case: Friendly Criminal
For several South Florida families, this holiday season comes with disappointment and financial loss. They say they trusted a man who they thought was a friend. Turns out he was a convicted criminal. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
John Tesser: "He said that he was a financial advisor."
The man Tesser speaks of is 52-year-old convicted felon Adam Kriftcher. The Tessers knew him as Adam Katz and had no idea about his background.
John Tesser: "Oh, he was like family. He came on any kind of holiday or whatever he came there with cakes and all kinds of great things."
Tesser's son, Andrew, invested $15,000. John and his wife invested $25,000, with money left by his mother who is a Holocaust survivor.
John Tesser: "It's like blood money that we gave."
Tesser said he began to doubt his money was really being invested and asked for a refund. He said Kriftcher promised to give the money back but then disappeared.
Jay Remer: "And I gave him foolishly my last $50,000."
Remer, 81, of Boca Raton is also out a lot of money. He said he got some of his investment back but is still out $16,000.
Carmel Cafiero: "When you look at it today, do you think it was just a Ponzi scheme?
Jay Remer: Yes.
Carmel Cafiero: "That he was paying you back with other people's money?"
Jay Remer: "Yes, absolutely."
Remer said he thought Kriftcher was his best friend, who even took him to his dialysis treatments.
Jay Remer: "And I can't tell you how many people I have spoken with who have given him money. And he was their best friend also."
And this is not the first time Kriftcher has been accused of using other people's money. He's on probation for grand theft and grand theft from a person 65 years or older.
Corrections department records show him living at a Boca Raton home. Kriftcher was not there, but someone who also once thought Kriftcher was a friend lives at the home.
Pam Olthaus: "I invested $40,000."
Olthaus said she is in danger of losing her home after investing with Kriftcher. She even let him stay in a spare room for a couple of months hoping he would return her money.
Pam Olthaus: "'I'm your best friend,' and well, there were a lot of people who fell for that best friend thing."
7News has learned there is now an arrest warrant out for Kriftcher for violating his probation.
Authorities are also investigating his latest investment deals.
Mike Jachles: "The Broward Sheriff's Office Economic Crimes Unit is assisting the Coconut Creek Police Department in an active investigation of this case."
The people who said they were victimized do not hold out much hope of getting their money back. However, they do hope law enforcement catches up to Kriftcher before he can victimize anyone else.
Authorities said victims can contact BSO's Economic Crimes Unit at 954-321-4254.
Detective John Calabro is investigating.
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