Vladislav “Bobby” Yampolsky was just a little boy when he came to the United States in 1978. His father had brought over 8 family members with a mere $800 in his pocket.
There wasn’t a lot you could do with that in NYC at the time, so the family got to work. Yampolsky’s dad drove vegetable trucks and taxis to make ends meet – until one day he found a job making gold chains.
After a few years, the family had the money to move to Florida and opened up their first little 10×10 jewelry kiosk in the Pompano Mall. Bobby keenly remembers helping his dad run around trade shows and meet new vendors – he said at 10 or 11 years old he had already fallen in love with the family business.
Now, Bobby Yampolsky has a business of his own, ECJ Luxe Collections, and it’s no mall jewelry store – it’s a high-end luxury retail store.
He certainly wasn’t about to let anyone steal from him after his family’s sacrifice and all of his hard work. And that’s why he made headlines in 2017.
On March 18th of that year, a French-speaking woman by the name of Fatima Milanovic walked into his Boca Raton location to sell a luxury watch. Yampolsky had spent two months negotiating a price for the piece with a third party via e-mail and she came to deliver it in exchange for cash and 11 jewels worth $6.77 million, according to CBS Miami.
In the police report, Yampolsky described the woman’s behavior as very suspicious and said she was nervous and shaky as she tried to distract him multiple times while the jewelry was laid out on the table. She also didn’t bring any of the tools used to properly inspect jewelry.
“She came here to inspect stones without bringing any tools, no magnifying glass, no diamond dealer’s loupe, nothing, so it was obvious she was about to pull something,” Yampolsky told WPEC News.
The woman asked to put the stones in a box that she had brought but Yampolsky didn’t like what he was seeing.
He asked for them back as she started sealing up the package with industrial tape.
When she handed the box back, she had switched it with an identical one in her bag.
“That’s how she tried to scam us,” Yampolsky said. “She brought her own materials, wrapped it herself with her own tape and tried to pull the switch because she had the identical package in her bag, pre-made.”
That’s when the store owner knew he couldn’t let her have the upper hand or she would walk out with millions in jewels.
They struggled over the woman’s briefcase, which she grabbed back from him.
Since the two were negotiating inside the store’s vault, Yampolsky had a better idea.
He left the room and locked her inside, closing the large steel door behind him.
That’s when she knew she was in trouble.
While inside, Milanovic can be seen on surveillance video trying to rip up the package that the jewels were sealed in.
The police were summoned immediately.
Milanovic was arrested on charges of organized fraud and grand theft and according to the Sun-Sentinel, later released from jail on a $50,000 bond.
Her lawyers vigorously denied that she tried to commit a crime. Attorney Richard L. Cooper said in a statement weeks later:
“We believe that Ms. Milanovic was misguided by people she trusted and had no intent to ever commit a crime while visiting the U.S. Ms. Milanovic is a mother and wife missing her family back home in France and we look forward to having these charges dropped and reuniting her with her loved ones.”
Since then, there have been no public updates on her case.
You can scroll down below to see footage from the incident and an interview with Yampolsky.
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