I am writing this to let my clients know about this scam that is repeating itself in cruise ports in the Caribbean. I have had two clients in 2012 that bought large, unmounted tanzanites based on recommendations from the Cruise Shopping Guide. Also referred to as a Port and Shopping Presenter, this cruise shopping guide educates guests about shopping ashore through entertaining on-stage presentations. But behind the scenes, this job supports and promotes merchandise from its partners ashore.

Client # 1 bought a tanzanite that weighed close to 100 carats that was very fine quality for $96,000. They were told that they would be able to take the stone back to the U.S. and to sell it immediately and make a profit and if they were to wait several years that they would surely make a handsome profit. If fact they were told that Tiffany & Co. would buy the stone immediately. The full blown appraised retail value of the stone was $91,000.

Client # 2 bought an unmounted tanzanite weighing approximately 35 carats that was average quality. They paid $21,000 and were told a similar story regarding the investment possibilities of the stone. This stone had a full blown retail value of $17,000.

In both cases the client had 30 days to return the stone if it was appraised by an independent and it was determined that the value was incorrect or that quality of the stone was misrepresented.

Client # 1 was given a refund of the difference of the appraised value and the purchase price so now they had a stone that was valued at $91,000 that would be all but impossible to sell for that amount paid for by funds from their retirement account.

Client # 2 was outside of the 30 day window and so it is unlikely he will get any compensation at all. If not he will be stuck with a stone that has a retail value of $17,000 that he paid $21,000 for.

The moral of the story is:  Don’t be lured into buying something out of the country based on a story by someone with a vested interest in the goods that the item is a good investment. I suggest to my clients that they buy things on cruises that are mementos of the trip and not something that will make them money.