Gem cutter arrested for role in theft scheme

A 46 year-old diamond cutter was arrested by officers from Tel Aviv police's Fraud Unit on Wednesday, on suspicion of masquerading as a representative of global diamond companies in order to steal stones worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Chief-Superintendent Inbar Tzur, head of the Fraud Unit, said the suspect, who has not yet been named, took part in an elaborate scam aimed at swindling diamond dealers from the Ramat-Gan-based Israel Diamond Exchange, and that another man would be arrested in connection with the investigation on Thursday morning. The suspect was taken to the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court, where police extended his custody. "This investigation was launched in January after we received a complaint by employees from the Diamond Exchange," said Tzur. "The dealers were approached by the suspect with an offer to send their diamonds abroad to be examined in Italy [a normal working practice]," he added. But suspicions were aroused when the diamonds failed to return, and the suspect began making excuses, claiming they had "gotten lost." "The suspect claims he himself was the victim of a swindle," Tzur said, adding that police were not buying his defense. "His claim of being tied to companies such as Chopard and Bvlgar are entirely fictitious," Tzur said, adding that "the companies deny any connection to him." Asked how the suspect was able to gain the trust of his colleagues and get hold of such expensive stones, Tzur said he was a well-known and reputable diamond cutter among the employees of the Diamond Exchange. "The scope in damages amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars," police said. "Further arrests are expected soon."