Ottawa couple accused in fake jewelry scam

An Ottawa couple are facing 17 charges in an alleged international jewelry scam that Canadian border officials said is one of the biggest they've ever seen.
Some of the fake Tiffany jewelry seized by authorities. ((Canadian Border Services Agency) )

An Ottawa couple are facing 17 charges in an alleged international jewelry scam that Canadian border officials said is one of the biggest they've ever seen.

Debbie Craddock, 41, and Sean Craddock, 42, are charged with offences under the Criminal Code, the Copyright Act and the Customs Act.

The couple made about $800,000 from the sale of fake Tiffany's jewelry to up to 1,500 people, authorities allege.

A joint investigation by Ottawa police, the RCMP and Canada's border authority found the suspects imported the jewelry from China, then sold at local malls, online and at private events called Tiffany's parties.

One person told CBC News she bought $200 worth of fake jewelry at one of those parties, thinking she was getting a good deal.

"Everything came in the Tiffany box ... it's all very Tiffany's-branded. There's no reason to believe it would be anything but Tiffany," the buyer said.

"And when we asked, 'Is it real?' She said yes, it was real."

Little Blue Box

The two suspects called their business Little Blue Box Ltd., echoing Tiffany's trademark blue shopping bags and packaging.

Border authorities said they began investigating in 2008 when a shipment of undeclared jewelry from China was intercepted. Around the same time, Ottawa police received numerous complaints about the legitimacy of jewelry being sold in the city.

The investigation culminated in the couple's arrest Friday. Authorities executed a search warrant at the couple's Ottawa home and found "3,000 pieces of jewelry sold under the brand name Tiffany and Co.," a release from the Canadian Border Services Agency said.

Chris Kealey, a CBSA spokesperson, said it's "probably one of the largest cases we've seen, based on the individual pieces that have been seized."