Crime

TX Jewelry Store Owner Accused of Cheating Customers Arrested

CrimeJul 07, 2021

TX Jewelry Store Owner Accused of Cheating Customers Arrested

FBI agents nabbed Santiago Mora in Miami on a warrant related to a separate federal case.

Miami—A Texas jewelry store owner accused of swindling customers has been arrested on unrelated charges, law enforcement authorities confirmed Tuesday. 
 
According to Christina Garza, public affairs officer for FBI’s Houston field office, FBI agents in Miami arrested Santiago Mora on June 30 on a warrant for failure to appear for a bond revocation hearing. 
 
The hearing was related to federal charges the retailer is facing. 
 
In November 2020, a Texas grand jury indicted Mora on three counts of wire fraud and two counts of aggravated identify theft.
 
Mora owns half of Laspis [sic] Lazuli LLC, which does business as retailer Alku Modern Jewelers in Katy, Texas. A silent partner based in Sandy, Utah owns the other 50 percent. 
 
According to the indictment, filed Nov. 19 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, around May 2019, Mora worked with a company called Timez Investments Inc. that bought luxury watches from him and would, in turn, sell them for a profit. 
 
Timez paid Mora about $8.8 million for 855 watches, but only received about half of them. He allegedly failed to deliver about 354 of those timepieces and owes the company nearly $4 million. 
 
According to the indictment, Mora told the owners of Timez he would apply for a loan to pay them back, then proceeded to use his business partner’s identity in order to obtain merchant cash advances. 
 
Mora allegedly employed various methods—forging his partner’s signature, using his driver’s license, and pretending to be him on a call—in order to obtain money via wire transfers from three different financial institutions. 
 
He never paid back the cash advances, using the funds instead to “repay previous debts and to obtain substantial economic benefits for his own personal use and benefit,” the indictment states. 
 
Mora remained free on a $50,000 bond following his indictment. 
 
However, as reports began surfacing about the retailer defrauding customers at his jewelry store, the government moved to revoke his bond, court records show.
 
Mora didn’t show up for the revocation hearing in June, sparking issuance of the federal warrant on which he was detained in Miami.
  
 In addition to the federal charges, Mora is wanted by the sheriff’s office in Fort Bend County, Texas for first-degree felony theft related to Alku Modern Jewelers.  
 
KHOU11 aired multiple reports of people who claim they gave Mora money for items they never received, including a man who said he’s out $3,500 for an engagement ring and another who said he paid the retailer $26,000 for two rare Rolex watches that were never delivered.
 
Reached via email on Tuesday, Mora’s attorney, Sam Adamo, said his client is “an honest businessman” with no criminal history. 
 
He said both the pandemic and a family emergency delayed delivery of orders to customers, and that Mora is working on full refunds for anyone who did not receive their order. 
 
In late June, the sheriff’s office featured Mora’s case in a series called “Line Up,” designed to enlist the public’s help in solving crimes and finding wanted individuals. 
 
Garza, the FBI Houston spokesperson, said Tuesday that Mora is still in Miami awaiting extradition to Texas. 
Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.
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