The 59-year-old French woman targeted high-end jewellery shops like Tiffany across Europe pretending to be rich Arab woman shopping with her daughter, Frankfurt regional court heard.
The young girl – a relative of the woman but not her daughter – distracted shop assistants with an endless stream of questions and touching. The woman would then switch the real pieces of jewellery with fakes and the two would leave with their booty.
The court heard that the woman had been following the same script for years, and selling off the original jewellery on the French black market, the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper reported.
But the pair met their match in the Frankfurt branch of Tiffany & Co. in September 2008 – a keen-eyed shop assistant who noticed that the ring the woman had left in place of the €217,000 was a fake.
The woman, who has already spent time in prison in France, will now see the inside of a German jail. Her accomplice, in this instance the daughter of a cousin, got three and a half years.
She told the court she intended to retire from thieving and spend more time with her grandchildren.