Ten men were arrested this morning in New York for their alleged role in fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars in untraceable diamonds from wholesalers in New York, Las Vegas, and Mumbai.
The defendants—Godel Sezanayev, Mark Mullakandov, Albert Foozailov, Imanil Muratov, Manashe Sezanayev, Nathan Itzchaki, Arkadiy Israilov, Mark Natanzon, Sholom Muratov, and Menachem Abramov—are scheduled to stand before U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Peck in Manhattan federal court this afternoon.
Authorities are still looking for two men, Ali Javidnezhad and Nizamuden Akbari, both still at large.
According to a statement released by the U.S. Department of Justice this morning, and the indictment itself, the charged defendants—all allegedly members of an organized operation centered in New York’s Diamond District—participated in a global conspiracy to defraud diamond dealers out of more than $9 million.
Bad checks, forged documents, and “long stories” were integral to their schemes, said NYPD commissioner James P. O’Neill in the release.
According to the indictment, the most common technique for the group—which focused on stealing small melee diamonds, which are virtually untraceable, as opposed to large stones bearing origin marks—was building up credit and trust with a victim by paying for goods on delivery, then “at the moment of maximum credit,” ordering a huge amount of diamonds.
Once victims begin realizing what’s happening and start pushing for payment, “members of the group refuse and, instead, inform the wholesalers that their diamonds have been lost, or that another customer took the victim’s diamonds and has refused to pay, or that a different member of the group will repay the victim at some point in the future. Members of the group have even conditioned payment on the victim’s willingness to assist the group in still another fraud.”
The group also swindled diamonds from wholesalers in Las Vegas and India by ordering batches of gems under payment terms they had no intention of ever honoring.
The FBI has been investigating a series of “predatory frauds” perpetrated by a group of diamond merchants in New York City since roughly 2015.