SAN DIEGO- Families in the San Diego area said they lost thousands of dollars after investing in an emerald mining operation outside Brazil.
Now investors are warned about the legitimacy of that company.
When Pietra Verdi began to close, investors said they were told not to worry.
“They told us that everything looks good, we must trust the business, there are profits for years,” said Jasser Pérez López, who invested tens of thousands of dollars.
López emigrated from Cuba seven years ago. Since then, he has been saving money by working in security, doing trips and as a delivery driver.
He said that last year he invested all his savings in what he thought was a way out of the daily routine.
This is how the scheme worked. Pietra Verdi was based in Brazil, but hired a group in Costa Rica to advertise the company. The publicity and word of mouth of that group finally reached the families here in San Diego.
“I saw results in the first days, within the first months,” López said. “It was paying well and I thought I’d go with everything. Since I had my savings and felt that everything was legitimate, I also began to borrow money and use credit cards.”
López would buy Bitcoin and then send it to Pietra Verdi. The screenshots of the website show that he had transferred more than $70,000, obtaining $40,000 in profits. He said that those results were so promising that he exhausted his credit cards to the maximum.
“I kept borrowing money, I kept investing and reinvesting,” López said. “Whatever I would earn, I would reinvest it.”
López not only invested all his money in the company, but also invited others to join.
“I saw it work, I saw that I was making money,” said José Hernández, a good friend. “I took advantage of the opportunity.”
Hernández said he invested $5,000, but then, in November, everything collapsed.
“The group that got us into the business disappeared,” López said. “Everything disintegrated, everything, everything.”
Pietra Verdi had been sending videos to his investors that showed raw emeralds, jewelry and a device that, according to them, could detect raw emeralds. A gem expert who visited the Brazilian emerald mines, said that they are clearly false.
“There is nothing in the world that can detect a gem or mineral deposit with a rotating satellite dish or something like that,” said Joshua Hyman, the gemologist. “It’s completely invented.”
Hyman said that he has seen emerald mining companies in Brazil and thinks that Pietra Verdi is not legitimate.
“It’s an important company,” Hyman said. “Walking with a machine like that in the video, it goes against logic.”
The company was contacted many times but they did not respond. The Costa Rican government is warning future investors not to work with the company, and news reports identify it as a possible Ponzi scheme closed by the Brazilian government. We also contacted the Brazilian Federal Police to confirm if the company was closed. We are still waiting for an answer.
But López and his friends are still missing thousands of dollars.
“I’m drowning,” López said. “I can’t accept that I have lost the savings of my whole life, that I have caused other people to lose their money.”