A jeweler has been charged with trying to sell a fake diamond from a flea market to undercover customs agents for $12 million, The Associated Press reports. Yee Wai Yam, 41, was arrested Wednesday at a hotel near Dulles International Airport after trying to sell what he called a 1-inch-wide, 73-ct. diamond.
Agents later determined the stone was a $125 fake from a flea market. Yee was charged with attempted grand larceny.
“This scheme was unique for its sheer audacity,” agent Allen Doody with the U.S. Customs Service in Baltimore, reportedly said.
Officials told the AP the investigation into Yee began last week when agents were informed he was trying to sell what he described as three large diamonds smuggled in from South Africa.
Customs officials said agents told Yee they represented a powerful Colombian drug lord who wanted to buy the diamonds as a way to launder money. Yee allegedly told the undercover agents he didn’t want to sell the diamonds on the legitimate market because he didn’t want to leave a paper trail.