|
4
A Chocolate for Your Key? (2007)
.

Where: ABN Amro Bank, Antwerp, Belgium

When: March 2, 3 or 4, 2007

How much: Approximately $28 million

No one knows his real name, but the staff members at the ABN Amro bank in Antwerp's diamond district knew him as Carlos Hector Flomenbaum. Flomenbaum billed himself as a successful businessman, and he'd frequented the bank for at least a year. The bank's employees loved the guy, described as a gray-haired man between the ages of 55 and 60, speaking American-accented English and brandishing an Argentinean passport. He brought the bank's workers boxes of chocolates, talked to them about non-diamond-related matters and ultimately won their trust to the extent that he was given VIP access to the vault.

At the bank, certain customers are given keys so they can access their diamonds at odd hours. Flomenbaum became one of these trusted key holders, and sometime between March 2 and March 5, 2007, he let himself into the vault and walked out the front door with 120,000 carats of diamonds.

The ABN Amro bank has a $2 million security system. But "Flomenbaum" never had to deal with that. He used his pass card to get into the vault, went straight for the area that he knew held uncut diamonds and emptied five of the deposit boxes. Antwerp's diamond merchants were stunned. It's still unclear how a man with what turned out to be a stolen passport could have passed the bank's background checks.

Among the stolen gems were 41 blue and two extremely rare green stones. In all, the haul was worth about $28 million.

|