Amherst police now suspect that a Williamsville diamond-exchange owner arrested on charges of selling fake diamonds may have been running a similar scam for years.
Detectives arrested Paul Blarr, 47, of Williamsville, for the business practices at his RSNP Diamond Exchange on Main Street in the village. They charged him with four felonies, according to police reports.
In publicizing the arrest Monday, Amherst police asked the exchange’s customers to check the authenticity of any jewelry they bought there and to contact police.
“We believe he has done this to dozens of people, based on the number of phone calls we’ve gotten,” Amherst Police Capt. Enzio G. Villalta said.
Blarr is accused of selling fake diamonds for real-diamond prices.
“We’ve had several officers in the department who were victimized,” Villalta said. “We think he did it to a good number of people who came into the store.”
Police say that besides those off-duty officers, complainants include undercover police officers and state Department of Taxation and Finance workers who also say they were sold fake diamonds while investigating the possible scam.
“This guy doesn’t care who he rips off,” the police captain said.
The state tax investigators were involved in the probe to check reports that people paying cash weren’t charged sales tax on their purchases, police said.
So if the allegations are true, how could so many people have been fooled?
“Who knows what a real diamond looks like?” Villalta asked. “All you can go on is what the salesperson tells you, unless you know gems.”
Amherst Detectives Herbert Leising and David Kubiak, working with gem expert Robert Robertson from the Scientific Division of the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, charged Blarr with three counts of grand larceny and one count of scheme to defraud, according to police reports.
Additional charges may be filed, based on further complaints and on the sales tax issue.
As Amherst police continue their investigation, they’re still asking any customers who suspect they may have been defrauded by Blarr to call them at 689-1340.