DALLAS (CN) – A Dallas man is charged with running a Ponzi scheme involving precious metals and secretly replacing diamonds with phony, cubic zirconia stones, state prosecutors said.
Bedros “Pete” Minassian, 45, was arrested this week after a two-year joint investigation by the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Secret Service.
He was charged with theft of more than $200,000, a first-degree felony, and theft of between $20,000 and $100,000, a third-degree felony.
He is also being held on a third probation violation regarding driving under the influence, according to county records.
Minassian ran Addison-based Goldstream Inc., a precious metals buyer and reseller. The company touts “The Goldstream System,” a multi-level marketing “compensation plan” that recruits “prospectors” to buy a $49.95 kit to start earning commissions on gold transactions, according to its website.
Prosecutors say it was a Ponzi scheme that inflicted over $400,000 in known losses, with additional victims who have not yet come forward.
Minassian is accused of tampering with jewelry meant for cleaning and resizing, secretly replacing high-quality diamonds with cubic zirconia stones.