Checks not yet in mail in diamond class-action

  • Updated: December 18, 2010 - 9:54 PM
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A real diamond on left, and a fake on right.

Photo: JOEL KOYAMA, Star Tribune

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Thirteen years after her husband overpaid for her diamond ring, a Plymouth woman contacted Whistleblower to find out why he still hadn't gotten a refund from De Beers, the multinational diamond conglomerate. It turns out she's not the only one waiting for a piece of the rock.

In 2008, a federal judge approved a $295 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit that accused De Beers of illegally fixing the price of diamonds. Anyone who bought diamonds or diamond jewelry between 1994 and 2006 was invited to file a claim by May 2008 that could earn them a refund ranging from 6 percent to 59 percent of what they originally paid.

Rust Consulting, a Minneapolis company, is handling the De Beers settlement, details of which are available at diamondsclassaction.com. But nearly three years after the deal was struck, not one penny has been paid out. The objections of a single consumer prompted an appeals court to put the settlement on hold.

One San Francisco lawyer who represents plaintiffs sounds none too happy about the delay. The settlement "is being held up on appeal by a bunch of self-interested lawyers who are disrupting somebody else's case for their own financial gain," attorney Eric Fastiff said.

On Feb. 23, a federal appellate court in Philadelphia will hold a hearing to decide whether to approve the settlement. So those with diamond claims have at least a few more months to wait.

Be careful when e-mailing Santa

In the Internet age, even the innocent tradition of a child writing a letter to Santa comes with a few warnings. That's if your child is using one of dozens of websites to e-mail Santa.

The Children's Advertising Review Unit, an arm of the Better Business Bureau, said parents need to review sites that allow children to e-mail their wish lists so they know who has access to the information and how it will be used. Websites aimed at children should include a privacy policy that gives contact information for the company and outlines whether the company shares information with third parties, the advertising watchdog group said.

Parents should check out links on Santa-related websites to make sure they know where they lead. Children also shouldn't be required to include personal information, such as a physical address. More tips about Internet safety for children can be found at www.CARU.org.

COMPILED BY THE WHISTLEBLOWER TEAM

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