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HBO ‘Telemarketers’ series by Jewish filmmakers uncovers massive fraud

Benny and Josh Safdie, the brothers who made the film “Uncut Gems,” have produced a shocking, yet funny, three-part exposé.

Promo of the HBO series “Telemarketers.” Source: Screenshot.
Promo of the HBO series “Telemarketers.” Source: Screenshot.

A man with a deep, authoritative voice asks for a donation to support a state’s fraternal order of police or perhaps another organization he says provides money to families of fallen law-enforcement officers. Countless Americans have received such a call; what heartless soul could say no?

For a gold-level donation, the man will send a sticker for the back of the donor’s car. What he won’t say is that just 10% of the donation actually goes to the charity. The rest helps fund the wine collection of the company’s CEO.

The new documentary series “Telemarketers,” which debuted on Aug. 13 on HBO, draws on early 2000s footage that Sam Lipman-Stern shot within a sleazy call center in New Jersey, where ex-convicts solicited the donations, hard drugs were common and people copulated in the bathrooms.

Lipman-Stern and fellow call-center employee Patrick Pespas, a “legendary” telemarketer, begin to investigate where the money was really going.

Jewish brothers Benny Safdie, 37, and Josh Safdie, 39, were among the executive producers of the Sunday-night three-part series. The two directed the film “Uncut Gems,” which they co-wrote with Ronald Bronstein, who is also Jewish. The brothers based the film, which includes Jewish performers Adam Sandler and Idina Menzel, on their father’s experiences selling diamonds.

Benny Safdie played Edward Teller (a Jewish theoretical physicist) in Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer.” Josh Safdie is reportedly working on another Netflix film. The brothers’ great-uncle is the renowned Jewish architect Moshe Safdie.

The final episode of the show airs on Aug. 27.

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