Investors were duped into handing over more than $1m to a man who claimed to own a diamond mine, say police in Australia.
He allegedly claimed to be the owner of a non-existent mine in Sierra Leone and offered his victims the opportunity to invest.
Once they paid an initial sum, he allegedly asked for equipment and various gifts for his employees – which he then sold.
One victim reportedly paid $730,000. Two others are understood to have “invested” at least $73,000 each.
A 42-year-old man from the South East Suburbs, Melbourne, has been charged with 150 deception related offences including obtaining property by deception between September 2017 to October 2021.
He’s been bailed to appear before the Melbourne Committal Court in February 2022.
Detective senior sergeant Jason Venturoni, of Victoria police, said: “Criminals involved in the deception of others are often convincing and take advantage of people’s trust to exploit others for their own financial gain.”
Michael Hill’s US sales dropped in the past fiscal year as the Australia-based jeweler struggled in the key market.
Revenue from American operations slid 12% to $12.5 million, while same-store sales fell 8.5%, the retailer reported Monday.
Michael Hill has attempted to revive growth in its US network by appointing Brett Halliday — a successful head of the group’s Canada division — as head of the stateside business. However, the US stores continued to perform weakly, Michael Hill said.
“Our US business underwent a lot of change during the year including a leadership change and a new advertising direction,” the company said. “As a result, it struggled to improve performance.”
The company closed a store in Columbus, Ohio, due to poor performance, and wrote off the value of its outlet in Roosevelt Fields, New York.
Halliday “is reviewing the US business based on his learnings from the Canadian market and making adjustments to the model as required,” Michael Hill explained.
Total company revenue grew 6% to $461.8 million (AUD 583 million), driven by a stronger performance in Australia, where sales increased 4%, and Canada, where revenue leapt 18%. Sales in the retailer’s New Zealand stores slipped 0.8%. Group profit grew 67