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Jewelry fraud around the United States

Staff writer ▼ | June 23, 2016
Six individuals charged in scheme to defraud merchants out of jewelry and diamonds. Defendants, including two who were incarcerated at the time, conspired to obtain jewelry and diamonds using counterfeit checks.
Jewelry fraud
Jewelry, diamonds   Sending valuable jewelry in exchange for counterfeit checks
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Diego Rodriguez, Assistant Director-in-Charge of Federal Bureau of Investigation, (“FBI”), Robert E. Perez, Director of the New York Field Office of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”), William J. Bratton, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), and Julie L. Jones, Secretary of the Florida Department of Corrections (“FDC”) announced that David Jenkins, Anthony Brooks, Lakeatha Cooper, Sharon Lara, Dominek Grant, and Roberto Concepcion were taken into federal custody for participating in a scheme to defraud merchants of diamonds and jewelry in New York, New York, and around the United States.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “The six defendants allegedly tricked merchants around the country, including in New York’s Diamond District, into sending valuable jewelry in exchange for what turned out to be counterfeit checks and bogus money orders. Two of the defendants allegedly engaged in this brazen scheme while incarcerated for other crimes.”

FBI Assistant Director Diego Rodriguez said: “Using a contraband cell phone and a complex network of co-conspirators throughout the United States, an inmate in Florida allegedly defrauded jewelers in New York’s Diamond District out of thousands of dollars’ worth of jewelry pieces.

By posing as legitimate jewelry companies, David Jenkins negotiated a cash-on-delivery sale of jewelry with New York jewelers that was eventually paid with counterfeit certified checks and then re-sold. This cross-country scheme was met with cross-country law enforcement efforts, with FBI New York working closely with FBI Miami.

NYPD Commissioner William J. Bratton said: “As alleged, defrauding diamond dealers, while two of the defendants ran this racket from a jail, speaks to the audacity of the crime. This scheme of swindling New York City Diamond District merchants and others is over.”

From at least in or about June 2015 to in or about June 2016, Jenkins, Brooks, Cooper, Lara, Grant, and Concepcion defrauded jewelry merchants in New York City and elsewhere by inducing the merchants to send gemstones, precious metals, and jewelry to them in exchange for counterfeit checks or other fictitious forms of payment.

The defendants contacted jewelry and antiques merchants by telephone, electronic message, and email. In many of these communications, Jenkins masqueraded as representatives of legitimate jewelry companies and, in doing so, often appropriated the names and personal identifying information of real people in order to induce merchants to ship jewelry and precious goods interstate.

In the typical scenario, Jenkins, negotiated cash-on-delivery terms of payment from merchants, ensuring both that merchants would not meet any of the defendants in person and that the defendants could pay for the goods by counterfeit and fictitious certified checks. After receiving the merchants’ goods, the defendants typically sold those goods to other jewelry stores.

Contrary to the representations made to the merchants, Jenkins never represented any legitimate jewelry business. In fact, at all relevant times, Jenkins was incarcerated at a Florida state correctional institution, where he was assisted by Concepcion, who was also incarcerated at the same institution.

Brooks, Cooper, Lara, and Grant, who at all relevant times were at liberty in the community, created and delivered counterfeit checks, accepted packages from merchants, and distributed proceeds from the fraud to others in the scheme.