Thomas Knight, owner of EZ Travel Cruises in Rancho Cucamonga, recently concocted a scheme to rip off wholesale jewelry suppliers like my employer. I'm embarrassed to admit that Tom defrauded my company out of more than $70,000 and, as of 9/21/12, another three suppliers have been identified bringing the scam total to nearly $200,000. More should be coming forward soon.
Tom never had any intention of becoming a jeweler and has no ownership in any jewelry stores. He merely needed to create the image of a real jeweler and convince wholesalers to release merchandise to him with payment terms.
So Tom illegally took over an existing Nevada corporation called Diamond Hill Investments in Nevada, registered a new corporation by the same name in the state of Arizona, posed as the owner of a store in Tempe called Gold Exchange, submitted phony information to an industry credit reporting agency, coordinated with a Tempe jeweler to provide with fake references and get a false federal identification number,
set up phone answering systems to make it appear as though he had a substantial business, established a phony website www.dhigoldexchange.com
, claimed he was an investor opening new stores in the Tempe area, and provided postdated checks in excess of $70,000 that were all returned by his bank. He also gained the trust of my company and others by promptly making modest down payments, then tried to get even more merchandise that didnt require a down payment.
The stores in Tempe called Gold Exchange belong to an individual named Camille Massih who it seems has been coaching Tom along the way. Most of their purchases occurred at a major jewelry show in June 2012 in Las Vegas.
Apparently Tom thinks creditors will either not find and pursue him in California or just write off the debt or obtain an uncollectible civil judgment against a corporate entity without assets. Most likely any recoverable or personal assets have been hidden but we trust the Arizona Attorney General will extradite him and adjudicate the matter in criminal court.
This scammer won the battle but can expect to lose the war.