Jeweler accused of $5M fraud scheme, using fake invoices

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Connecticut man has been charged in what federal authorities say is a $5 million fraud scheme using his Rhode Island jewelry store.

Gerald Kent, 51, of Groton, Connecticut, was ordered detained Thursday on charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Providence. Kent owns Kent Jewelry in Johnston, Rhode Island, which sells jewelry online using flash sale websites, such as Groupon and Zulily.

Prosecutors said Kent struck a deal with a firm that buys unpaid invoices at a discount in return for cash, prosecutors said. But Kent sold that company fraudulent invoices, netting himself $3.6 million, they said.

Kent’s lawyer would not comment on the charges after the hearing. Kent is scheduled to appear back in court July 26 for a detention hearing.

Prosecutors told the federal judge overseeing the case that Kent is a prolific gambler and was arrested Wednesday at Foxwoods casino. They said casino records show Kent has visited Foxwoods 116 times this year alone and has gambled $43 million there during his life.