In last week’s newsletter we ran a story about 2 jewelers in Kentucky which were called by out of town “customers” looking to purchase loose diamonds using a credit card. In both cases the “customer” identified himself as a business owner from California.
As it turns out, these attempts are much more widespread than we expected. We received a great deal of feedback from readers who have experienced very similar situations. Here are a few of their stories:
“Hi. I was contacting you regarding the story of the Kentucky jewelry store that caught the fraud. Thank you so much for publishing. We were going through the same thing, we even got diamonds in for him to look at. Tom Drake as he calls himself called Monday being very specific, 1.01 – 1.09 carat, no florescence, VSI in clarity, just very specific. He gave us the same Tom Drake name number and e-mail, wanting everything that happened to the other jewelry store. We found out it was a scam by reading the article this morning. Thank you!”
“I sat down to my e-mail this morning to find SJN’s eWeekly containing a story of an eerily familiar credit card scam. The article warns jewelers specifically in Kentucky and surrounding areas of a California scammer; however this scam is much more widespread than Kentucky and the neighboring states.
On May 4th of this year, I was contacted by a James Cohen of Los Angeles, CA. He called from a GoogleVoice phone line and gave a story almost identical to the story given to both Kentucky jewelers. He claimed to own JC Construction of Los Angeles and had a daughter recently graduate from the University of Alabama. He looked up jewelers in our area (northwest Louisiana) while passing through on his way to and from the university. He was interested in purchasing a 1.00 – 1.20 ct diamond as a belated graduation gift for his daughter and demanded the stone be GIA certified G-H, SI1.
After a couple of phone conversations, I e-mailed him six diamond certificates. Two minutes after I sent that e-mail, and certainly not long enough to review all six certificates, he called wanting the largest, most expensive stone. I told him we required certified funds, but he refused saying he would only pay with his company card as that was ‘the most secure payment’ option for him. I refused the sale via the card and any attempt at contact afterwards led to a dead end.
About a week later, my vendor for several of the diamonds called me claiming two of his clients in the west Texas area reached out to him with the same story. There were obvious red flags along the way (ie. he had a ‘jeweler friend’ in the LA area who would set the stone.), but “James” was persistent in contact until I mentioned verified funds.
The contact info I was given is as follows:
I’m glad to see word is getting around so hopefully, no one else will fall victim to this scam.”
“Just read your article re: Over-the-phone diamond sales. Sounds like my story with a few changes: My ‘customer’ was from CA, owned a film editing studio and wanted three diamonds totalling about $21,000. My research showed that his business was not in CA but in NY and was not owned by him! Caution paid off with the help from my CC Processor.”
“We had this same guy call us this last week, only his story was slightly different. All jewelers need to be aware of this scam!”
A big thank you to our readers who took the time to write us in an attempt to warn other retail jewelers. Read the original article with more information here: https://southernjewelrynews.com/latest-news/other-news/3585-kentucky-jeweler-identifies-credit-card-scam.