A Norfolk resident charged Monday with helping bilk investors out of $100 million relied on ties that he cultivated within the region’s Orthodox Jewish community during the past decade, according to court documents.
Joseph Shereshevsky became known in the religious community through his charitable and educational activities, including support for the Orthodox Jewish day school in Portsmouth, Toras Chaim – the Rabbi Chaim Shereshevsky Institute of Mesorah Learning.
…Shereshevsky, whom the SEC said also goes by the nickname "Jossi," worked his way into the local Orthodox Jewish community in Norfolk’s Ghent section.
Orthodox Jews are among the most traditional and religiously observant members of the Jewish community. Orthodox families walk to Sabbath services on Saturdays, the men often in trademark black fedoras, the women with their hair covered.
Although there is no precise census of the community’s size, the B’nai Israel synagogue on Spotswood Avenue has 225 member families, according to its Web site.
When he arrived in Hampton Roads in 1999, Shereshevsky lived in a room provided by a friend and used the assumed name "Heller," said Stanley and Nancy Peck of Norfolk in a suit filed against WexTrust in November. He began working for the owners of an apartment complex and promoted real estate investments on their behalf.
Later, the Pecks said, he married their niece and began referring to them as "Uncle Stanley" and "Aunt Nancy."
Because of the trust that Shereshevsky cultivated, they bought a real investment from him, the Pecks said in the suit, filed in Norfolk federal court.
When their investment performed badly, Shereshevsky promised to compensate them with real estate investments put together by WexTrust. However, Shereshevsky, other WexTrust officers and the investment company failed to meet their obligations, the Pecks contended.