An online jewellery seller has been prosecuted for scamming customers.
Ka Man Lam, 27, has been found guilty of extorting money from the public by passing off CZ-set silver and base metal rings as platinum and diamonds. The jewellery was being advertised on eBay through an online platform called Angel Diamonds.
On Thursday January 10, Ka Man Lam, 27, was fined the sum of £3,000 at Nottingham Crown Court and ordered to pay £26,526 in confiscation, which is the financial benefit of her criminality.
She received the fine for eight counts of unfair commercial practices and seven counts under the Hallmarking Act, involving the advertisement and sale of earrings and rings, which had been mis-described.
The scam was originally bought to the attention of Nottinghamshire Trading Standards by the NAJ, via its IRV forum, around 18 months ago. To ascertain that the items were definitely being mis-described on the online shop, a number were purchased by the NAJ, which then passed them to Nottingham-based Graham Price to value.
“I looked at the site and was horrified,” says Price. “They were purporting to be selling, for instance, a 1.5ct H VS1 diamond set in platinum for £150. They were playing to the ignorance of the consumer; alarm bells were definitely ringing so I contacted Trading Standards. And when I received the good from the NAJ they were unbelievable. The boxes were worth more than the rings.”
Once Trading Standards learned the truth following Price’s valuation (the items were first sent to Sheffield Assay Office for confirmation of the metals used and the fact that they were also contravening hallmarking laws) they contacted Angel Diamonds. The business owner initially pleaded ‘not-guilty’ and that she was ‘just a distributor’ and was unaware of the passing off. But in view of the evidence against her eventually conceded and changed their plea to guilty.
In total over 700 purchases were made – some multiple purchases – with a value that price estimates to be close to a quarter of a million pounds. The jewellery is manufactured in the Far East.
National Association of Jewellers CEO, Simon Forrester, says of the cas: “We are very pleased to see this sentence being passed down. Consumers must be protected from unscrupulous operators, which is why the NAJ has worked closely with Trading Standards to gather evidence and bring this prosecution. The National Association of Jewellers is the Primary Authority for UK jewellery sales, maintaining confidence in jewellery bought via NAJ Members. We will continue to champion consumers’ rights alongside our colleagues in Local Authority Trading Standards enforcement.”