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Florida Treasure Hunter Creates Fake Treasure

In April 2016, Harper's Magazine published a fascinating report about a man named Jay Miscovich, who found what he claimed were hundreds of emeralds from a Spanish shipwreck that went down in 1622. The Florida Keys have long been a hunting ground for sunken treasure. So many vessels were wrecked among the islands and reefs, loaded as they were with billions of dollars' worth of gold, silver, and jewels being shipped in countless Spanish armadas as they sailed from South America to Spain, that they still attract hundreds of seekers after true treasure. Jay's samples and claims that he'd found masses of emeralds that were still out there were estimated to be worth a half billion dollars.

With the advice of a partner, lawyers, and jewel experts, millions of investment dollars were collected from private individuals, wall street managers, and a company specifically set up to protect this enormous find. The article paints Jay as a sympathetic character. He is likeable in ways that make you end up rooting for him. Most of those who contributed to his project were individuals or companies who only cared about what monetary value could be gained from owning or selling the priceless jewels for themselves.

In the end, the world discovered that Jay Miscovich's entire story was manufactured. He made it all up, including deliberately "seeding" the ocean floor with emeralds he'd bought on the market. Exactly as he hoped, his false claims drew the interest of treasure hunters. But down the road as unaccountable discrepancies surfaced, such as the Belgian jewelers finding an epoxy resin on the surface of the emeralds that could only have been added in modern times, and as one by one the investors pulled out, the entire story unraveled. Along with investigations came lawsuits, loss of friendships and family, and a poisonous atmosphere of distrust and anger.

Possible Preaching Angles: All of us are searching for "treasure," the pearl of great price. We are all treasure hunters. But are we on the trail of true treasure or a fake treasure?

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