USA warns of diamond fraud in Sierra Leone and Guinea

The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 11 May 2014

diamondThe US government yesterday issued a press and public statement, announcing fraud warning and fake Kimberley process certificates, suspected of being issued by corrupt government officials and diamond dealers in Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Sierra Leone’s brutal ten year civil war, which saw the rebel RUF hacking off the limbs of civilians and disembowelled pregnant women, was sparked by illicit mining of diamonds, which were then sold on the global market as ‘blood diamonds’.

Proceeds from blood diamonds were used by the rebels to purchase deadly weapons and drugs, fuelling the bloody war that took the lives of over 200,000 people.

It is estimated that notwithstanding the threat of conflict diamonds to the peace and stability of countries such as Sierra Leone, more than $100 million is lost to Sierra Leone annually, as the result of corrupt and fraudulent exporting of diamonds.

The Kimberley Process (KP) is an international, multi-stakeholder initiative created to increase transparency and oversight in the global diamond industry, in order to eliminate trade in conflict diamonds, or rough diamonds sold by rebel groups or their allies to fund conflict against legitimate governments.

The KP, which became operational in 2003, controls trade in rough diamonds between participating countries through domestic implementation of a certification scheme that makes the trade more transparent and secure; and prohibits trade with non-participants.

The Kimberley certification regulation demands that all rough diamonds must be shipped in sealed containers and exported with a Kimberley Process Certificate that certifies that the rough diamonds have not benefited rebel movements.

The US State Department’s Office of Threat Finance Countermeasures in the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, is responsible for coordinating the U.S. Government interagency implementation of the Kimberley Process – pursuant to the Clean Diamond Trade Act of 2003.

SL rebel war victims5Yesterday’s statement of fraud warning by the US government, regarding fake Kimberley Process Certificates suspected of being issued by corrupt officials and dealers in Sierra Leone and Guinea, signifies serious violation.

This is what the US government’s statement says:

The Department of State, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs, in conjunction with U.S. Customs and Border Protection is advising the public on several scams involving Kimberley Process Certificates.

Legitimate Kimberley Process Certificates are used to control the international trade in rough diamonds.

Recently, in one elaborate scheme, individuals were invited to Sierra Leone to view rough diamonds that were later evaluated as fake stones and were also provided with a fake Kimberley Process certificate numbered Sierra Leone 004199, issued in either April or May 2014.

Variations of certificate SL 004199 has been presented to prospective diamond purchasers in the past three weeks.

Diamond traders and business community members are also urged to be alert to the circulation of the fake certificate.

sierra leone - diamond miningIn the last year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has identified false Kimberley Process Certificates from Guinea, Ghana, and Sierra Leone that have been used by criminals in an advance-fee scheme to defraud people of thousands of dollars.

The criminals have approached U.S. citizens via the internet urging them to purchase rough diamonds directly from West African sources promising legitimate Kimberley Process Certificates for export.

About Internet Scams

All advance-fee scams are designed to have the victim believe they can obtain something of great value for a small upfront outlay of money.

If you feel you have been a victim of an Internet scam, please send all reports of Internet fraud directly to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) – a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C).

IC3 was established to receive internet related criminal complaints and to research, develop, and refer complaints to federal, state, local, or international law enforcement if appropriate.

If the scam originated through a particular website, also notify the administrators of that website.

When it becomes apparent you are the victim of a scam, it is best to end all communications with the scam artist, rather than attempt resolution.

It is extremely rare for victims to recover lost money. For more general information about international financial scams, please see the website of the Federal Trade Commission.

If you are presented with a fake certificate, please report it to:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection at kpmailbox@dhs.gov

And to the Department of State at USKimberleyProcess@state.gov

For more information about the Kimberley Process, please visit:

http://www.state.gov/e/eb/tfs/tfc/diamonds/index.htm

 

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