Indiana Jones: raider of the not so lost Torah scroll

By Jennifer Lipman, August 25, 2011
Next mission: court

Next mission: court

A man who claimed he was a "Jewish Indiana Jones" has been charged with fraud after it emerged his claims of rescuing abandoned Holocaust-era Torah's around the world were not entirely true.

Menachem Youlus, a Maryland bookstore owner, said he had engaged in exciting rescue missions in locations at concentration camps including Bergen Belsen. In 2004 he commented: "I guess you could call me the Jewish Indiana Jones."

But according to New York court documents, his "Save a Torah" mission was actually a seven-year-long fraud operation.

Mr Youlus, 50, apparently acquired Torah scrolls from US dealers and sold them, often for a profit.

His stories of worldwide adventure were mostly unfounded; he could not have rescued a Torah from Auschwitz in 2004 because he did not travel to Poland that year.

Mr Youlus could be sentenced to 20 years in jail if he is convicted of charges of wire and mail fraud. He allegedly made hundreds of thousands of dollars from the scam.

Lawyer Preet Bharara said: "His alleged exploits were no more real than those of the movie character he claimed to resemble."

Last updated: 11:43am, August 25 2011