US woman tricked into spending £560k on £3 jewellery, Indian police say

An Indian goldsmith works on jewellery at a workshop in Siliguri (AFP via Getty)
An Indian goldsmith works on jewellery at a workshop in Siliguri (AFP via Getty)

Shopkeepers in India allegedly conned an American woman into buying cheap gold-plated jewellery for Rs60m (£563,000; $718,000).

The woman, identified as Cherish in a police complaint, bought the jewellery from a shop in Johri Bazar in the western Indian state of Rajasthan. At the time of the purchase nearly two years ago, she even received a hallmark certificate confirming the purity of the ornament.

When she returned to the US and displayed the jewellery at an exhibition, she learned it was a counterfeit worth no more than Rs300 (£2.82; $4), prompting her to return to India and confront the shopkeeper, Gaurav Soni.

The shopkeeper has denied the allegation.

Ms Cherish informed the US embassy, which helped her file a police complaint against the jeweller and his father Rajendra Soni, reported India Today.

“Police sent the jewellery for testing. The results showed that the diamonds in it were moonstones,” Jaipur police’s deputy chief, Bajrang Singh Shekhawat, said. “The tests further showed that the gold content in the jewellery, which should have been 14 carats, was two carats.”

The accused jewellers also filed a complaint alleging that the American woman fled with jewellery from their shop.

“But when we checked the CCTV footage, it turned out to be false,” Mr Shekhawat said.

“The accused jewellers are on the run but we have arrested one Nandkishore, who issued the fake hallmark certificate.”

Police have formed “special teams to trace the two men”, NDTV reported.

“Following the complaint by this woman from the US, the police also received several other complaints alleging fraud worth crores by Gaurav Soni and Rajendra Soni, which are currently under investigation," Mr Shekhawat said.

Ms Cherish, who first got in touch with the Sonis on Instagram in 2022, told India Today that they “have been systematically cheating me in jewellery”.

“They have been shipping me nine-carat and gold plates instead of 14-carat,” she said.

“They have been shipping me entirely moonstone instead of natural diamond. It’s not just me, it’s about 10 other designers who are impacted by him and his fraud. He included fake certificates. Just nothing is real."