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7 Accused of Fraudulent Jewelry Sales

A federal grand jury returned a 38-count indictment.

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PHOENIX – Seven people have been accused in connection with an alleged scheme to import Native American-style jewelry and sell it as authentic.

On Feb. 26, a federal grand jury returned a 38-count indictment against individuals based in the U.S. and the Philippines, according to a press release from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They allegedly sold the fraudulent merchandise to retail stores and individuals across the southwestern U.S.

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According to the indictment, the defendants and their conspirators used various jewelry businesses  including Last Chance Jewelers and LMN Jewelers — to design and manufacture jewelry in the Native-American style at factories in the Philippines.

The conspirators allegedly took several measures to ensure that the jewelry resembled authentic Native American-made jewelry, including copying jewelry designs from genuine Native American artists, using traditional Native American motifs and symbols in the jewelry, and stamping the jewelry with the initials of alleged Native American artists. According to the indictment, the jewelry was then imported into the U.S. by FedEx, or smuggled into the U.S. by hand or through the Philippines Postal System, to Arizona.

From there, the jewelry was allegedly advertised and sold to the general public as authentic jewelry made by Native Americans, at jewelry and crafts stores that purported to specialize in Native American pieces. The indictment alleges that none of these jewelry items were indelibly marked with the country of origin as required by customs law.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations “is committed to targeting those who are attempting to engage in selling counterfeit goods for pure profit,”  said Scott Brown, HSI special agent in charge for the Phoenix office.

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“Knowingly and willingly targeting unsuspected buyers is not only shameful but illegal,” he said. “This illicit activity has severe consequences, which include robbing the tribal communities of their economies by passing the arts, crafts, and jewelry as authentic Indian artifacts.”

The conspirators allegedly perpetrated this international fraud and money laundering scheme for several years in violation of federal laws, including the Indian Arts and Crafts Act.

The indictment alleges that Richard Dennis Nisbet, 70, and his daughter Laura Marye Lott, 31, both of Peoria, AZ, conspired with others to design and manufacture the Native American-style jewelry in the Philippines and import the jewelry to the U.S. Lott then allegedly delivered the jewelry to retail stores in Arizona, Texas and other states and collected payments.

Christian Coxon, 45, of Selma, TX, was the owner and operator of Turquoise River Trading Co., a jewelry store in San Antonio, TX, that claimed to specialize in Indian-made jewelry. Waleed Sarrar, 43, of Chandler, AZ, owned and operated Scottsdale Jewels LLC, a jewelry store in Scottsdale, AZ, that advertised as selling authentic Indian-made jewelry.

According to the indictment, Coxon and Sarrar conspired with Nisbet, Lott and others to pass off imitation jewelry manufactured abroad to the public as authentic Native American-made jewelry.

Additionally, Mency Remedio, a factory manager in the Philippines, and Orlando Abellanosa and Ariel Adlawan Canedo, both of whom worked as jewelry smiths in the Philippines for the operation, were also charged with participating in the schemes.

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Failed Fashion Jewelry Chain Is Coming Back

It will operate primarily as an online brand.

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Jewelry and accessories retailer Charming Charlie may have gone bankrupt and closed its 261 stores, but you can expect to see the brand resurface in coming months.

Charlie Chanaratsopon, founder of the company, is acquiring its trademarks, internet properties and other intellectual property for about $1.23 million, the Houston Chronicle reports. He was approved to buy the assets following a bankruptcy auction.

He plans to revive Charming Charlie as primarily an online brand. It will have only a few permanent brick-and-mortar stores, which will open early next year.

The company’s main advantage is its 10-million-strong customer base, said Chanaratsopon, former CEO of Charming Charlie.

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“In this age of retail, we still see an opportunity for the brand to thrive in the online ecosystem,” he said, according to the Chronicle.

The company said in July that it was closing all of its stores in connection with its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filed July 11.

Read more at the the Houston Chronicle

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Online Jewelry Brand Raises $6.2M in Funding

Ross-Simons has taken a majority stake.

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CRANSTON, RI — Luca + Danni Inc., a online jewelry brand based in Rhode Island, has closed on $6.2 million in funding, with Ross-Simons Inc. becaming the majority investor in the deal.

PJC, a Boston-based VC Fund and early investor in Luca + Danni, will retain a stake in the company.

The investments “create a powerful partnership between an iconic jewelry company and three-year-old digital brand,” according to a Luca + Danni press release.

Fred Magnanimi, founder of Luca + Danni, will remain as CEO and board member.

“I started this brand to honor my family’s 50+ year heritage in US made handcrafted jewelry and help others embrace the journey of life as I learned to do after losing my brother to leukemia,” said Magnanimi. “With the amazing resources and strategic support of Ross-Simons and PJC, I am confident we will help millions embrace their own journey and continue to build our community.”

Ross-Simons, also based in Rhode Island, has a long history in retail and direct-to-consumer jewelry sales.

“Luca + Danni is a digitally native brand rapidly taking market share in the jewelry space,” said Jim Speltz, president of Ross-Simons. “Our resources, product expertise, and go-to-market experience matched with Luca + Danni’s powerful brand will foster meaningful growth in the evolving e-commerce world.”

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She Woke Up Without Her Engagement Ring. Guess Where Doctors Found It …

It all started with a dream. (Story with video.)

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A San Diego woman woke up without her engagement ring, and she immediately remembered a dream she’d had the night before.

One where she’d swallowed her engagement ring.

Jenna Evans immediately told her fiance, Bob Howell, and they headed to urgent care. She told the story in a Facebook post that has gone viral, garnering 62,000 shares as of Sept. 16.

She ended up seeing a gastroenterologist, who performed an upper endoscopy.

“Everything went great, they found my ring just beyond my stomach in my intestines, retrieved it and gave it to Bobby, not me,” she wrote.

She also divulged a bit about the dream that got her into the predicament.

“I was having a dream that Bobby and I were in a very sketchy situation involving a high speed train and bad guys (I have very exciting and vivid dreams) and he told me I had to swallow my ring to protect it; so I popped that sucker off, put it in my mouth and swallowed it with a glass of water riiiight about the time I realized what I was doing,” she explained. “I assumed this too was a dream, because WHO ACTUALLY SWALLOWS THEIR ENGAGEMENT RING, so I went back to sleep.”

The ring was made by Simone Jewelry Designs in Houston. CBS8 reports that it includes a 2.4 carat diamond.

Watch a news video about the incident:

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