A woman stole nearly $6 million worth of diamonds from a jeweller by swapping them out with tiny, worthless stones, according to UK prosecutors. Lulu Lakatos of France was posing as a gem expert, who was to inspect the diamonds on behalf of a presumed client, when she visited a Boodles jeweller in London, England, on March 10, 2016, according to testimony heard at Southwark Crown Court. “The conspiracy in which she is alleged to have played an integral and central part was one of the highest possible sophistication, planning, risk, and reward,” said prosecutor Philip Stott, per the BBC. Ahead of the visit, Boodles chairman Nicholas Wainwright had met with a man who agreed to buy seven diamonds worth $5.75 million, including a 20-carat heart-shaped rock worth $3 million and a three-carat pear-shaped fancy pink diamond worth $1.5 million.
Lakatos, 60, allegedly posed as a gemologist named “Anna” during a meeting in which she examined and weighed each diamond before placing them in small boxes, which were then placed in a lockable, zippered bag. The jeweller was to hold the bag until payment. But when Wainwright left the room to take a call from the buyer, Lakotas put the bag in her purse, the jeweller’s gemologist Emma Barton testified, per the AP. Barton said she objected, at which point Lakatos returned the bag, which was actually an identical one containing “seven garden pebbles,” which Barton opened the following day. By then Lakotas was long gone. She was arrested in France on a European arrest warrant in September and extradited back to the UK to face trial. She’s pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to steal. Two accomplices were convicted of the same charge, per the Guardian. (Read more theft stories.)