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Robbery Insurance Fraud

Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd (UK)
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group

Jewellers found guilty of staging Snatch-like heist on own store with thugs dressed as Hasidic Jews in copycat plot to film

By Simon Neville
Last updated at 10:29 PM on 4th March 2011

Two broke diamond dealers who staged a phoney heist hiring thugs dressed as Hasidic Jews to rob them as part of a $7million insurance scam have been found guilty.

Jewellers Atul Shah and Mahaveer Kankariya from New York were caught out by security cameras, which they thought had been destroyed, showing them replacing the valuable loot from their safe with empty boxes just hours before the ‘robbery’.

With similarities to a ploy straight out of Guy Ritchie’s cult film Snatch, the bungling duo could face up to 15 years in jail for the heist which the judge called ‘a joke’.

Mahaveer Kankariya and Atul Shah

Guilty: Atul Shah, left, and Mahaveer Kankariva, face 15 years in jail for staging the heist as part of a $7million insurance scam described as 'a joke' by the judge.

Atul Shah, pictured, hired the two thugs dressed in Jewish garb to 'rob' the store as part of a $7million insurance fraud

A gun was put to his head, while the 'robbers' stole the loot. They tried to destroy the security cameras, but the video was safely stored on the motherboard

At the end of the three-week trial Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Thomas Farber told the pair: ‘It's clear to me that this was a conspiracy,’ finding them guilty of seven counts of grand larceny, insurance fraud and other crimes.

Security Camera Image 1

The business partners who were struggling with huge debts hired the thugs – who have never been found – to ‘rob’ them.

Following the gun-point raid the thugs dressed as Hasidic Jews ‘forced’ Shah and a frightened employee – who was unaware it was a set-up – onto the floor and took the empty boxes in the safe.

The CCTV survived, capturing the moment Shah and his business partner, Mahaveer Kankariya, emptied the safe prior to the robbery which they knew about
But just three hours earlier Shah and Kankariya had been seen removing the jewels from the safe and replacing them with empty boxes.

Security Camera Image 2

The robbers poured draining fluid over the cameras in the hope of destroying them, but the motherboard survived intact, managing to capture the incriminating evidence of both the heist and the switch.

It also showed Shah buzzing the two Hasids into the jewellery offices in Manhattan’s Diamond District in Midtown, without asking who they were.

At one point the ‘Jews’ were left alone in the room with the unlocked safe.

Faber said: ‘The rest of the robbery, frankly, looks like a joke.’

The jewellers claimed they thought the Hasidic Jews were 'couriers' despite their clothing and the luggage they were carrying. The thugs were never found

Security Camera Image 3

Security Camera Footage and Picture  Of Opening Scene From The Movie Snatch


The robbery using men dressed as Hasidic Jews is similar to the opening scene of Guy Ritchie's film Snatch starring Benito Del Toro
The pair – unaware that the CCTV had survived intact – then lied to police and insurance investigators, claiming they had not entered the safe that fateful New Year’s Eve in 2008.

In court they claimed they believed the Hasidic Jews were ‘couriers,’ but the judge dismissed this claim as ‘Frankly ridiculous’.