On Tuesday, Antwerp criminal court sentenced seven individuals for a large diamond fraud in the city. The fraudsters had targeted 11 businesses and caused millions of euros of damage between 2012 and 2016.
The guilty will have to serve up to three years in prison (although most will be eligible for suspended sentences) and pay fines rising to €6,000. Around €300,000 in ill-gotten gains has been confiscated, Belga News Agency reports.
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All the targeted diamond companies were conned in the same way: they gave diamonds in deposit to the criminals on the understanding that they would find buyers for the precious stones. At first, the ploy worked; however once the fraudsters had gained the confidence of the companies, the diamonds were not paid for but were sold for below their market value.
The seven found guilty were charged with 72 counts of fraud. In their defence, they claimed that they always intended to repay the companies targeted and each individual put the blame on each other, as well as on their "clients" who had never paid for the stones.