Charlotte Jeweler Sentenced For Wire Fraud
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Benjamin Abraham, 60, of Charlotte, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad, Jr. to 41 months in prison in connection with a $3.5 million investment scheme involving jewelry, precious metals and gemstones, announced the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina. Abraham was also ordered to serve two years of supervised release and to pay $2,034,537 in restitution.
John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Charlotte Office and David M. McGinnis, Inspector in Charge of the Charlotte Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) join the U.S. Attorney’s Office in making today’s announcement.
According to filed court documents and today’s sentencing hearing, Abraham, a well-known Charlotte-area jeweler, operated a number of businesses engaged in the wholesale and retail sale of diamonds, precious metals and jewelry, including Benjamin Diamonds, LLC, Benjamin Jewelers, LLC, Global Trading LLC, G&I USA, LLC and other related entities. From at least December 2012 through May 2017, Abraham executed a financial fraud scheme involving investments in jewelry, precious metals and gemstones, among other things, and induced at least seven victim-investors to invest over $3.5 million, resulting in losses of more than $2 million.
To induce his victims to fund the investment scheme, filed court documents show that Abraham made a number of fraudulent representations, including that the victims’ 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 other large diamonds which would be sold for profit. Abraham also lied to investors about his past successes and profits from engaging in such investments, misrepresented the security of the investments and made false representations about the rate of return and the duration of the investments. At times, Abraham also falsely represented that he had unique access to estate sales due to his connections and that he would be also be investing his own money.
Court records show that when victims asked about the status of their investments, Abraham gave numerous false explanations, and, at times, provided victims with checks from accounts that Abraham knew did not have sufficient funds to cover the checks and continued to lie when he was confronted about the dishonored checks.
According to court records, rather than invest the victims’ money as promised, Abraham used it to fund his lifestyle, to keep his struggling businesses afloat, to pay pre-existing debts, and to make Ponzi-style payments to other victim-investors.
In sentencing Abraham today, Judge Conrad emphasized the seriousness of Abraham’s crimes, the fact that Abraham continued to defraud victims after he was approached by federal law enforcement agents, and the need to specifically deter Abraham from future criminal conduct. Judge Conrad also cited the need provide general deterrence to those, like Abraham, who would engage in difficult to detect financial frauds.
The FBI and USPIS led the investigation. Assistant United States Attorneys Dallas Kaplan and Daniel Ryan, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, prosecuted the case.