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Hundreds Bilked in $25M Diamond Investment Scam, Feds Say

It was allegedly a Ponzi scheme.

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MIAMI — South Florida federal prosecutors have accused a Washington, DC, man of operating a fraudulent diamond investment scheme.

Jose Angel Aman, 51, has been charged with wire fraud.

Ariana Fajardo Orshan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami Field Office, made the announcement.

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Arom May 2014 through May 2019, Aman and his partners solicited people throughout the U.S. and Canada to invest in diamond contracts, authorities said.  It is alleged that Aman and his partners promised investors that they would use their money to purchase rough colored diamonds, which Aman would cut, polish and resell at a profit. They reassured investors that their money was safe because it was secured by Aman’s inventory of diamonds (purportedly valued at $25 million), according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. Aman and his partners allegedly presented the investment as a high-return, no-risk deal.

These promises and statements were  false, authorities said. It’s alleged that Aman rarely used investors’ money to purchase rough diamonds and that he never cut, polished and resold rough diamonds. Neither did Aman have a $25 million diamond  inventory, according to authorities. To conceal the fraud from investors, Aman allegedly made purported interest payments to investors by using new investors’ money to pay earlier ones. According to the charging document, at the end of the investment period, Aman and the partners would convince the investors to roll over their money by falsely claiming that the investors had the full value of their investments to put into new deals. They allegedly provided sham “reinvestment contracts” to the investors, a tactic they used to buy time until Aman could locate new investors and additional money.

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It is alleged that when this scheme was about to collapse, Aman set up a new business, Argyle Coin LLC, that was purportedly in the business of developing a cryptocurrency token backed by diamonds. Aman solicited new investors for Argyle, promising high rates of return with no risk, authorities said. Aman allegedly used only a fraction of the money received from Argyle investors to develop a cryptocurrency token, instead using most of it to pay purported interest payments to the earlier investors and to benefit himself and his partners, according to the charging document.

During the course of the Ponzi scheme, Aman and his partners collected over $25 million from hundreds of investors, authorities said. Aman allegedly used the money to make purported interest payments to investors, to pay business expenses, to pay commissions to the partners and to support his own lavish lifestyle.

Aman made his initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart, who sits in West Palm Beach, FL.

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