Gemstones Scam in India:
This one is widespread across the country, though majorly in Agra and Jaipur. In this scam, gem dealers, retailers as well as well-dressed businessmen contact you and request you to take or post gems and jewellery to the your home country on their behalf. Their partners will collect it from you. They say that you can do so legally under your duty-free allowance and help them to escape paying Export fees. This act in itself is illegal as you are conning the Indian Government from its rightful Export Duty.
Variations of the scheme include:
- Pay a particular amount and sell the jewels to the partner at a higher amount.
- Pay nothing but give your credit card to be swiped to prove that you have bought the gems/jewels if asked by the custom officials.
In both the variants, you are assured of a hefty commission once the partner picks up the consignment (they give all details of the partner). Only no one turns up to receive the jewellery, the partner turns out to be a fictitious character and you open up the credit card bill and get a nasty surprise instead of the promised commission.
Other variants of the scam involve your parcelling /couriering the jewels/gems under your tourist visa allowance to your home country.
The dealer advises you to expect a call from the Indian Customs to verify your transaction, where, you simply have to state that your credit card limits to reassure the official. The call comes; only, the officer accuses of stealing the jewellery and threatens to arrest you if you do not show evidence of the payment. To escape trouble with the law, you contact the businessman who asks you to make the payment for the moment, assuring you of repayment.
Unfortunately for you, once you make the payment, there is no word from the businessman and his agent / partner who was supposed to collect the goods from you. On arrival at your home country, you open the parcel and all you find in them are regular coloured stones and no gems.
In some cases, you do not even receive the parcel as the scammer goes and takes back the parcel from the courier person on some pretext or the other. The courier persons are involved in the scam in some cases.
A couple of cases also had the businessman befriending tourists, inviting them to dine and wine, attend parties and having gained trust extend their proposal – a proposal of making a nice profit by buying gems and getting them shipped to their home country under tourist visa allowance.
They say, “Pay by credit card and ‘return’ the jewels/goods to our partner in your home country under the guise of dissatisfaction with product”. You agree since you are just helping your new friends.
A day later, other such friends are caught and they ask you to get out of the country fast before the Customs get on to him (a blatant lie to get you out of the country and off their tracks), even going on to great lengths to procure a flight ticket on their own expense. You fly back at once to escape the Customs and they use your credit card details for endless shopping in the meantime.
- Even if you are actually buying the gems, buy it only from reputed sources. Do not get it shipped – even if you get it packed in front of you and accompany the store keeper to the courier, it can be easily swapped for worthless stones after you leave. Also, scamsters are very good in producing fake export documents, fake certificates of authenticity etc. So, beware.
- Buy from state-run emporiums, MMTC, or high-end showrooms such as Tanishq and Gem Palace. MMTC is a Government of India enterprise that specializes in the trade and retail of precious metals and gemstones. It has showrooms across the country, where one can buy gold, silver and bronze medallions, jewellery and artefacts.
- Check for Hallmark signs to ensure authenticity.