By Michelle Graff
New York—Two men who were part of a larger ring of con artists operating out of New York’s Diamond District were convicted in New York federal court last week.

Following a seven-day trial, Sholom Muratov and Menachem Abramov were both found guilty of mail fraud for obtaining melee diamonds via the post that they never intended to pay for.

Muratov and Abramov were among the 12 men charged in April 2017 with wire fraud and mail fraud for perpetrating a series of what federal investigators termed “predatory frauds” that ultimately led to more than $9 million in losses for diamond dealers in the United States and India.

They would write bad checks, give false references, use forged documents and give excuses as to why they could not pay for the diamonds they received, preferring always to deal in melee because it’s harder to track.

According to the original complaint, Murtov and Abramov’s role in the scheme began in December 2015 when a diamond broker in Mumbai introduced them and four other men who already have pleaded guilty in the case— Mark Mullakandov, Nathan Itzchaki, Albert Foozailov and Mark Natanzon—to four diamond wholesalers based in and around Mumbai.

The diamond broker encouraged the Mumbai-based dealers to do business with the men and they agreed, in part because of their associate’s recommendation but also because of the defendants’ “various independent representations about their business experience.”

Muratov and Mullakandov purported to be working on behalf of a fictitious company called Stud Masters USA Inc. They bought more than $3 million in melee from the wholesalers between March and July 2016, court papers state, in what’s known as a “bust out.”

Initially, they paid their bills in order to build up trust and credit with the wholesalers but, ultimately, did not pay for $2.2 million of the $3.2 million in melee they received.

Muratov, 36, pulled off a similar scheme, court papers show, ordering and receiving more than $1 million in melee but paying the wholesalers only about $231,000.

He is set to be sentenced on March 26, 2019, while the sentencing for the 32-year-old Abramov is scheduled for March 28. Both men face up to 20 years behind bars.

Muratov and Abramov were the only two of the 12 men charged to take their cases to trial. The other 10 pleaded guilty.

In addition to Mullakandov, Itzchaki, Foozailov and Natanzon, they are: Godel Sezanayev (aka Gary), Imanil Muratov (aka Eddy), Manashe Sezanayev (aka Michael) Arkadiy Israilov; Ali Javidnezhad; and Nizamuden Akbari.

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