Twelve suspected Russian gangsters stole $9-10 million in diamonds from wholesalers in Midtown’s Diamond District, federal prosecutors said Wednesday. A long-running investigation into international diamond fraud led to the arrest of ten (or nine, depending on source) Russians who allegedly cost their victims nearly $10 million, reports several U.S. news outlets. The scam victimized diamond dealers in New York City, Las Vegas and Mumbai. The FBY-NYPD-Customs and Border Protection Joint Eurasian Organized Crime Task force began investigating the ring in 2015, according to prosecutors. The fraud involved bad checks, forged documents, and instances of people building up relationships of trust and then simply running off with diamonds without paying. Authorities claim the diamond dealers persuaded wholesalers from India operating stores in New York to allow them to trade melee diamonds, which are almost impossible to trace.
“The twelve charged defendants allegedly participated in a global conspiracy to defraud diamond dealers out of more than $9 million,” acting Manhattan US attorney Joon Kim said. “Centered in Manhattan’s diamond district, America’s busiest hub in the diamond trade, the defendants allegedly took advantage of an industry-wide system of credit and trust to obtain largely untraceable diamonds, and then, using various allegedly illegal schemes, refused to pay.” They were all charged with wire and mail fraud. If convicted of the most serious offense, they each face 20 years in prison. They were released Wednesday after posting various amounts of bail.