A jeweler in Thornton stands accused of swindling customers out of nearly $150,000 worth of jewelry and money through an elaborate bait-and-switch operation that spanned years.
According to an affidavit from the Thornton Police Department, owner of D & D Jewelers David Kushnir defrauded several people by claiming to repair their jewelry, then returning their items with fake stones, fake gold or replaced parts. He's also accused of selling fake diamonds to at least three people, or accepting items he planned on selling but never paying customers the money he owed them.
One woman claims she dropped off her Rolex watch at D & D Jewelers, which is located at 3839 East 120th Avenue, back in October 2016 to have minor repair work done. She also commissioned the store to make her earrings out of the 46 grams of gold she brought them, according to the document.
The store had the woman's watch and gold for more than seven months before she was able to pick up her pieces, she claimed. When she went to retrieve her Rolex, she immediately told the jeweler something was wrong with the watch, who told her "the watch was fine and there was nothing wrong with it."
The victim then took the watch to another jeweler in Boulder that handles Rolexes. She said when that jeweler opened the watch and showed her the inside, he explained "the inside movement piece was no longer a Rolex, but rather a Chinese piece that it had been replaced with," the affidavit stated.
Repairing the now-cheapened watch would cost the victim about $40,000, she claimed.
The earrings she commissioned from Kushnir were also fake and not made with the gold she dropped off, she said. When she brought her complaints to Kushnir, he initially said there had been a mistake and made the earrings again for her. The second time she got the earrings, she believed they were still fake and "had only been painted with yellow gold paint."
After bringing this to the attention of associates, the victim claimed she was "no longer met with pleasant interaction", and was told they could no longer help her. She says she never got the movement piece from her Rolex or her 46 grams of gold back. Her total loss was $41,996.
Kushnir's affidavit is riddled with similar instances. In one case, a close friend and part owner of D & D Jewelers alleges he bought an engagement ring in 2015 from the store only to find out when he took the ring for repairs at a Jared's store that the stone wasn't a diamond, but rather a much cheaper moissanite stone.
He told police that after learning this, he tried to talk to Kushnir, whom he had been friends with since 2005, but was hung up on. Kushnir never called him back and the victim says he was out $12,000 and left with a sham ring.
Other people who had interactions with Kushnir that later soured involved victims surrendering their jewelry at D & D Jewelers, agreeing on a price for their items to be sold, then never getting their rightful pay from Kushnir.
In one case, a woman said in March 2017, she dropped off two diamond bracelets and a diamond and ruby ring for Kushnir to sell for her. She and Kushnir agreed he'd sell her items in total for $5,000, she claimed. Kushnir, the affidavit reads, never got the woman her money. When she followed up with him "multiple times by phone and text message", he told her in December 2017 via text that he didn't have time to go to the bank that day, but would go tomorrow. That's the last time she heard from him.
Zaur Bairamov was named as one of the victims in Kushnir's arrest affidavit.
Bairamov says he and Kushnir were once good friends, even joining each other for family dinners.
"It was a low blow when I found out this was all unraveling," he said.
Bairamov said he agreed to loan Kushnir $20,000 when he needed some help, and that's where their problems started.
"When payments started becoming late and checks started bouncing, I became concerned," Bairamov said. "And it was just taking way longer than agreed upon to return my loan. I decided just to have him make me a piece of jewelry."
Court documents said Kushnir offered Bairamov a diamond ring for his fiance, worth $27,500 as a repayment of the loan.
"I chased him around for a certificate of authenticity that I never received," Bairamov said. He later learned from another jeweler that the stone was not a real diamond, but rather moissanite.
"I'm heartbroken by the situation, I can't imagine how other people feel," he continued. "I just hope justice serves him right and he learns his lesson because he's caused a lot of pain and grief and disappointment to a lot of people."
Kushnir, according to the arrest affidavit, also told several customers that the store went out of business, but they could still contact him with questions. However, the victims listed in the criminal complaint say Kushnir would respond initially, before disappearing.
Kushnir is charged with one count of theft concerning theft of up to $100,000 from 11 named victims. He was arrested Tuesday at his home in Aurora and advised of his charges on Wednesday. He's expected to be in court on Friday.
Have you had any dealings with David Kushnir or D & D Jewelers? Contact 9NEWS at email@example.com if you'd like to share your story.
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