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'Devastated': Ontario woman discovers diamond ring bought in Mexico for $4,000 is a fake worth $50

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An Ontario woman who was in Mexico with her boyfriend was shocked to learn a diamond ring they purchased for $4,176 turned out to be worth only $50.

"I was devastated. I was sickened. All I kept thinking about is he paid $4,000 for this ring and it's not even real. It was disgusting," said a Toronto woman who asked CTV News Toronto to hide her identity and refer to her as May because she was embarrassed to have been caught in a fake diamond scam.

In February of this year, while May and her boyfriend were on vacation in Cancun, Mexico, they spotted a ring which looked like a beautiful piece of jewelry.

After a year of dating, May's boyfriend decided to pop the question while on their trip and went with her to purchase an engagement ring at a jewelry store recommended by their tour guide.

"We were told if you're looking for jewelry or souvenirs, here is the place to go, go to these people. Highly recommended, they are perfect, you won't get scammed. I remember them saying that specifically" she said. 

After finding a beautiful diamond ring with white gold, the shop promised to send documents by email concerning the ring's cut, colour, clarity and carat. But they never did.

The couple paid $4,176 for the ring, but when they got back to Canada, a certified appraiser said it was worth about $50.

"This was something that should have been a spur-of-the-moment, a beautiful moment, but turned into a headache for the last couple of months," said May.

The ring was purchased using a Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) VISA card, and her fiancé requested a chargeback. While they were initially given a refund, the merchant complained and the charge was put back on the card and they were told they had to pay it.

"It's not right, it's not fair and where is our protection around things like this," said May.

"You go down there, you're having a good time, and the salespeople just tell you what you want to hear. They're happy to take your money," said Steven Knight, a spokesperson with the Canadian Jewellers Association (CJA).

According to CJA, if you buy expensive jewelry outside of Canada, you often have limited protection if something goes wrong.

"You actually are gambling because there is no way you know what you are getting, and you're taking a chance spending that kind of money," said Knight.

When CTV News Toronto reached out to RBC, a spokesperson said the investigation was ongoing and a favourable decision had been agreed to before CTV News got involved in the case.

"When a client raises an issue with a VISA credit card charge, RBC opens a dispute with VISA on behalf of our client, which we did in this case. We follow an established process for each investigation, which can take some time, depending on the complexity of the situation. We aim to keep our clients informed throughout the investigation process."

"While this matter was resolved prior to CTV's inquiry to RBC, we understand it took longer than our client expected to reach a resolution. Although we cannot comment on the specifics of this situation due to client privacy, we can advise that we have apologized to our client directly for any inconvenience this may have caused," the statement read.

May said she was glad the issue had finally been resolved and that she had contacted CTV News.

"I've been dealing with this since the end of February. It's a relief to finally have it over with and our money refunded," said May.

When you're making an expensive purchase, a credit card will offer more protection than paying with debit or cash. If you buy a piece of jewelry from a member of the Canadian Jewellers Association, you'll also have protection in case there is a problem.

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