The judicial police announced on Wednesday, July 21, the dismantling of a Franco-Israeli diamond scam network of swindlers.

More than 800 diamonds hidden under a bed and 1,200 victims identified. A Franco-Israeli fraud network specializing in fraudulent diamond investments has been dismantled by the judicial police after several years of investigation. The investigation started in 2017 with a fake money transfer scam involving the Angers soccer club. The investigations conducted from this case under the direction of the specialized inter-regional court (Jirs) of Nancy will allow “to uncover a network of crooks controlled from Israel, whose specialty is the creation of internet platforms offering fraudulent investments in diamonds,” explained to AFP Anne-Sophie Coulbois, head of the Central Office for the Repression of Serious Financial Crime (OCRGDF).

More than 1,200 French victims in this diamond scam

In total, 27 people have been indicted and more than 1,200 French victims have been identified in connection to this diamond scam. The overall damage of the diamond scam is estimated at more than 30 million euros and 4.5 million euros of criminal assets – mainly cash and bank accounts – have been seized. The scammers canvassed victims to “get them to buy diamonds fictitiously, not for jewelry, but for investment,” says Anne-Sophie Coulbois. “Most people never see the diamond, they choose it on the internet virtually” thinking “it is kept by the crooks and that it increases in value over time,” she adds.

Classic scammers’ scheme

A classic scheme in this type of diamond scam: the criminals “offer you to invest in such and such a product, it can be diamonds, parking spaces, whisky… by promising you attractive returns. And when you want to withdraw your funds and your capital gains, no one responds“. In 2019, after a first wave of arrests in France, hearings and searches in Israel allow investigators to discover “over 800 diamonds under the bed of one of the accused“, for a total weight of 27 kilos and an estimated value between 500,000 and one million euros. Their value is “much lower than the sums paid by the victims“, specifies the divisional commissioner.

French investigators traveled to Israel last week to recover the stones that will be returned to the victims. The investigation has also helped to dismantle the money laundering circuit used. “The funds transferred by the victims passed from account to account until they arrived in China and Hong Kong,” says the commissioner. Then, “unscrupulous Chinese merchants, established in France, gave cash to the Franco-Israeli network to compensate for the transfer received in China,” she explains.

As an American writer once said: ‘The trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool.’