By Brecken Branstrator
Charlotte, N.C.—A North Carolina jeweler was sentenced Friday for wire fraud, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina said.

According to a press release, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad, Jr. sentenced Benjamin Abraham, 60, to 41 months in prison in connection with a $3.5 million investment scheme involving jewelry, precious metals and gemstones.

The judge also ordered Abraham to serve two years of supervised release and pay more than $2 million in restitution.

According to court documents and Friday’s sentencing hearing, Abraham, a Charlotte-area jeweler, ran a number of businesses involved in the wholesale and retail sale of diamonds, precious metals and jewelry, including Benjamin Diamonds LLC, Benjamin Jewelers LLC, Global Trading LLC and G&I USA LLC, among others.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said from at least December 2012 through May 2017, Abraham executed a financial fraud scheme that involved investments in jewelry, precious metals and gemstones, among other items, and convinced at least seven victims to invest more than $3.5 million, resulting in losses of more than $2 million.

Court documents show that in order to persuade his victims to fund the investment scheme, Abraham “made a number of fraudulent representations,” including telling the victims their money would be used for short-term investments in gold or other precious metals, to invest in diamonds and jewelry obtained from estates and to buy large diamonds to be sold for profit.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office also said Abraham lied to investors about past successes and the profits that came from such investments, misrepresented the security of the investments and made false representations about the rate of return and duration of the investments.

The press released added that Abraham also falsely represented having “unique access to estate sales” because of his connections and that he would be investing some of his own money.

Court records show that when victims asked about the status of their investments, Abraham gave them a number of false explanations, even at times providing victims with checks from accounts he knew didn’t have sufficient funds to cover the amounts and then continuing to lie when confronted about them.

The press release said that rather than investing his victims’ money, Abraham used it to “fund his lifestyle,” keep his struggling businesses going, pay off pre-existing debts and make Ponzi-style payments to other victims.

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