Diamond Heist Hoax

By Brennan McCord

Feb 24, 2010 3:11pm

ABC News' Brennan McCord reports:

This was a real Diamond District disaster, according to authorities.  On New Year’s Eve, two men, dressed in Hasidic Jewish clothing robbed Dialite Imports in New York City, making off with nearly $10 million worth of jewels. 

Here’s the catch:  prosecutors say the robbers were hired by the store owners to “steal” the precious stones.  Atul Shah, 48, and Mahaveer Kankariya, 43, were allegedly over $100 million in debt and had put together the bizarre hoax in order to collect on an insurance policy.

On December 31st, 2008, prosecutors say the store owners reported that two men were buzzed into their store, pulled guns, and raided the safe.  Surveillance cameras show the “thiefs” entering the store.   However, surveillance cameras also allegedly caught the owners clearing out the jewelry from the safe and putting them into a bag just two hours before the alleged burglary occurred.  Authorities thought the owner’s story to be fishy, so they obtained the store's surveillance-data hard drive for forensic analysis, thus allegedly finding the incriminating footage of Shah and Kankariya. 
Shah and Kankariya, have been charged with grand larceny, insurance fraud and falsifying business records. They were ordered held on $750,000 bail.

The bling, which the owners had insured for $9.2 million, has not been recovered, according to authorities.

ABC News could not reach Sherwood Allen Salvan, the suspect’s attorney but he has said at the arraignment that his clients were being judged too quickly. "They're good men with families that need them," he said.

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