NEW YORK (WABC) -- Ten suspected Russian gangsters were arrested Wednesday morning for allegedly defrauding merchants in New York, Las Vegas and Mumbai out of more than $9 million in diamonds.
Investigators said the members of the group, under investigation since 2015, wrote bad checks, forged documents and used other methods to convince wholesalers to give them diamonds on a promise to pay on delivery.
Court records said the group walked away with millions in diamonds and left the victims high and dry. The diamonds were then resold through the Diamond District in Manhattan.
To avoid detection, the group focused on small round stones called melee diamonds, which are virtually untraceable because they do not bear numerical identifiers.
Here are the names of the 12 suspects charged, as listed in the criminal complaint:
- Godel Sezanayev, AKA "Gary"
- Mark Mullakandov
- Albert Foozailov
- Imanil Muratov, AKA "Eddy"
- Manashe Sezanayev, AKA "Michael"
- Nathan Itzchaki
- Arkadiy Israilov
- Ali Javidnezhad
- Mark Natanzon
- Sholom Muratov
- Menachem Abramov
- Nizamuden Akbari
"Centered in Manhattan's diamond district, America's busiest hub in the diamond trade, the defendants allegedly took advantage of an industry-wide system of credit and trust to obtain largely untraceable diamonds, and then, using various allegedly illegal schemes, refused to pay," Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Kim said. "We commend our law enforcement partners for their work in shutting this alleged criminal scheme down for good."
The suspects are expected to appear in court in Lower Manhattan later in the day.
10 suspected Russian gangsters charged in NYC diamond fraud scheme