Columbia County authorities are trying to identify two men they say used a fraudulent check to buy a $9,000 diamond ring from a Martinez jewelry store.
An owner of Martinez Gold said a man claiming to be legally blind called the store on March 18 and said he needed help finding a diamond of a specific grade and clarity. The man, who identified himself as Dr. Joseph C. Nolan, said he’d be flying from Maryland to Charlotte and driving to Augusta and use the ring to propose to his girlfriend on Fort Gordon, according to a Columbia County Sheriff’s Office incident report. The man also said he’d bring his son along because he’d been taken advantage of in the past when buying a diamond.
The owner of the store at 3801 Washington Road said several calls were exchanged with the man throughout the afternoon. The man and his son, Shawn, arrived at the store just before 6 p.m. They talked with the co-owner and master jeweler and approved the 1.06 carat round diamond and setting. The co-owner said he mounted the diamond and boxed the ring for the men, according to the report.
The owner said the men presented a South Coast Bank cashiers check for $9,288 as payment. The man claimed he didn’t have picture identification and must have left it in the AAA store during his trip to Augusta, according to the report.
The owner called the number on the back of the check to verify the funds and was told the check was good.
On March 19, an employee called a number she found online for South Coast Bank and was told by a teller that the check was fraudulent and wouldn’t be honored.
Anyone with information should contact the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office at (706) 541-2800.