A woman who stole £4.2 million worth of diamonds has been ordered to pay back just £250. Here is how she carried out the theft:
Lulu Lakatos, from Saint-Brieuc, France, pretended to be a gem expert called 'Anna' in order to swipe seven stones - one worth £2.2 million alone - from luxury jewellers Boodles in Mayfair, London.
The 60-year-old told staff at the jewellers that she was there to value some expensive diamonds on behalf of a wealthy Russian client in March 2016.
The diamonds she was inspecting were supposed to be placed in a padlocked purse and held in the New Bond Street store's vault until funds were transferred.
However, CCTV footage from the family firm's basement showroom captured the moment Lakatos dropped the purse into her handbag, switching it for a duplicate in seconds.
Boodles boss Nicholas Wainwright had briefly left Lakatos to talk on the phone to apparent Russian buyer 'Alexander', who he had met over lunch at Monaco's Hotel Metropole.
The jewellers' diamond expert, Emma Barton, did raise some suspicions, but the diamonds, thought to have been concealed in a secret compartment, were not found when Lakatos' bag was searched.
Hours later, with the valuable stones in their possession, Lakatos and her criminal associates fled the country, heading to France.
The theft was only spotted the following day, when the purse in Boodles’ safe was opened, with nothing more than a few pebbles found inside.
The diamonds were never recovered and the crime is said to be the most expensive of its kind ever committed in the UK.
After being caught by the authorities, Lakatos, who was born in Romania, was convicted of conspiracy to steal on or before 10 March 2016 by a jury at Southwark Crown Court by a majority of 10.
During the trial, Lakatos claimed that Anna was in fact her younger sister, Liliana Lakatos, who had confessed to using Lulu Lakatos's passport to commit the crime months before she died in a car crash, aged 49, in Romania in October 2019.
Sentencing Lakatos to five-and-a-half years in prison, Judge Emma Goodall QC said: "You have been convicted of conspiring to steal diamonds, the jury having rejected your defence it was your deceased sister and not you who perpetrated the offence.
"This was a highly sophisticated and audacious offence in terms of planning, risk and reward, an offence in respect of which you played an integral role.
"You spent almost an hour in the Boodles London showroom exploiting their trust, which allowed you to engage in a brazen deception and through sleight of hand you stole seven diamonds valued at £4.2 million."
During a proceeds of crime hearing at Southwark Crown Court last week, Lakatos was ordered to pay £245, which was taken when she was arrested.
Judge Alexander Milne QC said: "As far as the figures are concerned there is a striking contrast between the benefit figure of £4,299,671 and the available assets of 293 euros and 57 cents."
With the money having already been seized, Judge Milne set a one-day default sentence and gave a month to pay.
According to reports, Lakatos is expected to be extradited to France, where she has a number of past convictions for theft.
Featured Image Credit: Crown Prosecution Service
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