An award-winning jeweller swapped out real diamonds for fakes leaving one couple $60,000 out of pocket and almost ending another couple's marriage plans.
They were just two of five victims who fell for Dale Edward Mooney's charm offensive behind the counter at Diamond Jewellers in Hamilton.
The 43-year-old was a convincing picture; he drove a flash car and wore fancy suits.
But temptation appeared to get the better of the company director who is currently serving a 12-month home detention sentence after admitting theft and fraud charges while operating Diamond Jewellers in Hamilton.
D E Mooney and Company Ltd has now been put into liquidation. Liquidators currently have the company before the civil court seeking $300,000 for out-of-pocket creditors.
The liquidator's report revealed Mooney had withdrawn "significant funds" for personal use. The report also discovered "irregularities" with the company's GST returns. The IRD had been notified.
In its short life, Diamond Jewellers built a quick reputation after taking out business of the year in 2014 in the Hamilton Central Business Association Awards.
As for his offending, it was anything but scientific. It involved either an up-sell which he failed to deliver on or the swapping out of valuable jewels for cheaper rocks.
In one victim's case, it left her holding a $4000 ring instead of one supposedly worth $92,500. She and her husband paid $60,000 and are yet to get any of the money back.
None of the other victims had seen any money yet either, despite Mooney being sentenced in the Manukau District Court in June and the judge ordering he pay $90,436 in reparations.
Mooney's offending stretched back to 2012, prior to him setting up his own business.
In that case, the victim decided to sell her ring and placed it on consignment. After picking it up she later got it valued as was told it was worth $5000 less.
The couple who paid $60,000 were shown a sales certificate before handing over any cash. They were none the wiser about the fraud until the main stone became loose and she took it back to get re-secured. After becoming loose a second time - in September 2016 - she found Diamond Jewellers was closed.
She took it elsewhere and was told the heartbreaking news; the main stone was a synthetic cubic zirconia, not a genuine diamond. It was valued at $4000.
The rest of the victims' stories are similar - a victim bought a $7995 ring, at a discounted price of $6500 only to be told it was worth $4400. The New Plymouth woman says the sentence was "a slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket".
"Home detention? Come on," she said.
She called the Ministry of Justice last week to inquire about getting back the $2100 she's owed and was told it would take "years and years".
"He needs to get a loan and pay all his victims back."
Another victim, a Hamilton barrister, ended up spending $3000 more on a ring than the $6000 he initially intended. After paying a $2000 deposit and financing the remaining $7861, he was left without a ring and is still paying off the finance.
The series of events also gave his partner cold feet. She saw it as a bad omen and initially wasn't keen to get married, however, they have since set a date of 2020 to walk down the aisle.
As for his thoughts on Mooney's home-detention term, he said any first-time offender should be able to avoid jail as long as they paid reparation in full at time of sentencing.
Mooney has moved back to Manurewa, Auckland, where he is serving his home-detention sentence.
The officer in charge of the case, Hamilton police Constable Jason Bishop, said anyone who had bought a ring from Diamond Jewellers, formerly based at 509B Victoria St, and was concerned about its authenticity, should get a valuation.
If an irregularity was discovered he encouraged people to contact him at email@example.com, or Hamilton police 07 858 6200.