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By
AFP
Published
Oct 26, 2007
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Conmen flee Cyprus after diamonds sting : police

By
AFP
Published
Oct 26, 2007


NICOSIA, Oct 26, 2007 (AFP) - Two con artists posing as Russian businessmen stole diamonds worth 268,000 dollars (186,000 euros) from a Cyprus jewellery shop in a well-planned sting operation, police said on Friday, October 31st.

The authorities believe the men have now fled the eastern Mediterranean island with their haul of valuable gemstones taken from a high-end shop in the southern port of Limassol.

Nicos Sophocleous, the town's senior detective, told reporters this was the first diamond heist of its kind in Cyprus.

He said the two culprits posed as traders wanting to buy diamonds weighing 375 carats. The shop owner asked them to wait a few days until a shipment arrived from Belgium.

When the diamonds arrived on Wednesday, the two returned to the shop to weigh the stones and to put down a deposit of 2,800 dollars (1,945 euros) until payment for the entire consignment was cleared through a bank.

The diamonds were put in a sealed box until the transaction was due to be finalised.

When the pair failed to show up on Thursday, the Cypriot shop owner became suspicious and opened the box -- only to find worthless kernels of corn instead of the precious stones.

Police believe the conmen switched boxes when the jeweller was counting the cash deposit.

International arrest warrants now have been issued for the two suspects.

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