Seemingly Forged Documents Linked to Heir-Searching Genealogist

Isaac Kramer, a Crown Heights lawyer who died in 2008, leaving behind an $8 million fortune and no known will.

Searching for estate heirs is a big business. I have friends that have earned their living searching records in hopes of locating heirs to estates. Some of these cases are relatively new – with the researchers working for firms that specialize in this type of work. Other searches are for heirs in what you could call “cold cases.” These are searches that have gone unsolved for years – and have potential – if one can break the case.

Genealogy firms specializing in this type of work will attempt to find heirs, then make contact with them – offering to help them get the funds – for a piece of the action. If it’s a large estate, both the heir and the research firm can make out pretty well. The genealogist who actually does the work will get a piece of the piece… I’m over-simplifying the process here, but that’s the gist of it.

Now it seems that a gentleman who’s well-known in the field and has successfully settled “more than 100 Surrogate’s Court cases” is being accused of using forged documents to prove the case.

I’d not considered this before, but in thinking about it, I can see where one of weak “moral character” might be tempted to fudge just a bit to get the search to conclude as he might want… Too bad… I really hope this is all a big mistake, but I have a bad feeling about the whole thing.

Following is an excerpt from an article by James Fanelli, posted in the May 15, 2017 New York Daily News:

“A globe-trotting genealogist has made a cottage industry out of searching Eastern Europe for the long-lost relatives of people who died without wills in New York City and in other parts of the United States.

“Vadim Tevelev says he has worked on more than 100 Surrogate’s Court cases in which he has located an heir and then helped the relative score a piece of the decedent’s estate.

“Now he’s working on behalf of a Russian-born New Jersey woman to win her part of an $8 million fortune left behind by Isaac Kramer, a Crown Heights, Brooklyn, lawyer who died in 2008 at the age of 94.

“But several estate lawyers and genealogy experts have said that the family trees and genealogical records that Tevelev submits as proof of kinship are not always rooted in reality.

Read the full article.

White Woman, 72, thought She Was Black for Most of Her Life


The crazy Rachel Dolezal story had many of us puzzling over why anyone would go to so much risk and effort to make themselves appear to be something they were not. Now comes the story of Verda Byrd, who was told as a child that she was black, and went throughout her life believing a lie. Following is an excerpt from an article posted at

Verda Byrd is a 72-year-old white woman who thought she was black for most of her life.

…Byrd says she had no clue about her white ancestry growing up.

A foster kid since age 2, Byrd was raised in Missouri by her black foster parents, Ray and Edwina Wagoner, who were only able to adopt her because officials at the time thought her mom was white.

In 2013, after uncovering her adoption papers many years after her parents’ deaths, Byrd found out she was white and also learned that she had three biological sisters, who are also white.

Read the full article.

Here’s another article at