By Michelle Graff
New York--Federal authorities in New York have charged 12 men with fraud for allegedly running a worldwide scam that cheated diamond dealers out of more than $9 million in goods.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan said Wednesday that the FBI had been investigating a series of “predatory frauds” being perpetrated by this group since 2015.

The group, some of who allegedly are Russian gangsters, are said to have used a variety of methods to cheat victims of diamonds--they would write bad checks, give false references, use forged documents and tell “tall tales,” preferring always to deal in melee because it’s harder to track.

According to federal authorities, the gang’s most common technique was the “bust out.”

They would build up credit and trust with a victim by paying for goods on delivery before placing a huge order, essentially maxing out their credit with the victim, and then disappear with the diamonds.

When victims would insist upon payment, the men would simply give them the run-around, telling them their diamonds had been lost, sold to someone else who refused to pay, or that another member of the group would repay them.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the men charged in the case are: 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; and Nizamuden Akbari.

The attorney’s office said Wednesday that 10 of the 12 men had been arrested while Javidnezhad and Akbari remained at large. No further updates were immediately available Friday morning.

The 30-page complaint filed in the case contains an affidavit by the FBI agent who worked it, and sections of its read like they were taken straight out of a Hollywood blockbuster--secretly recorded meetings, undercover operations and cash-stuffed duffel bags.

In one instance, the affidavit describes how one victim, who lost a total of $2.4 million in goods to this gang, was outfitted with a recording device by the FBI for one meeting with Godel Sezanayev, or “Gary,” who told him, “Take me to court … I pay you when I feel like it,” “Nobody can do [expletive] to me,” and “If I need, I [expletive] somebody if I want.”

The affidavit describes another instance in which this same victim got swindled by Manashe Sezanayev, or “Mike.” Mike gave the victim a duffel bag that purportedly contained more than $500,000 but turned out to mostly $1 bills, stacked up and concealed beneath $100 bills bound together with rubber bands.

Sezanayev, Foozailov, Muratov, Sezanayev, Javidnezhad, Israilov and Akbari are each charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, for which they could serve up to 20 years in prison.

Wire fraud is financial fraud that takes place using telecommunications or information technology; in this case, the perpetrators are charged with wire fraud because they used the telephone in some of their allegedly fraudulent dealings.

Foozailov, Nathan Itzchaki, Mark Mullakandov, Mark Natanzon, Menachem Abramov and Sholom Muratov are charged with conspiring to commit mail fraud, which carries the same maximum sentence.

These six are charged with mail fraud because they allegedly convinced four diamonds dealers in Mumbai to send them more than $7 million in diamonds via interstate carrier but never paid for them.

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