The trouble with treasure

An amateur diver says he's discovered tens of thousands of raw emeralds at the bottom of the ocean -- but it may be years before he can profit

Exactly what Miscovich wanted to hear because for centuries Spanish, Dutch, even pirate ships, had ferried Colombian emeralds across these waters off the coast of Key West.

So, that's where we headed next, to this haven for drifters and dreamers.

Armen Keteyian: A lot of people come here to escape, to lead a double life so to speak. What brought you here from Latrobe, Pennsylvania?

Jay Miscovich: Um, the adventure, you know, the adventure and the sea, the ocean, and the lure of the treasure.

For years, Miscovich says he went back and forth from Pennsylvania, pouring profits from real estate deals into dive after empty dive.

Jay Miscovich: It-- it's a total obsession. I've put my life savings into treasure salvage.

But by late 2009, the housing market was crashing, and he was caught holding seven properties he couldn't sell. Nearly broke, he borrowed money from friends and kept feeding his obsession.

Armen Keteyian: You never really stopped believing that you are going to find something...

Jay Miscovich: Yep, absolutely.

Armen Keteyian: ...that is going to change your life?

Jay Miscovich: Absolutely.

As unbelievable as it sounds, he says, it happened in this bar.

Armen Keteyian: This is the bar?

Jay Miscovich: It's the one that changed my life, right here.

He says he met up with a down-on-his-luck diver he'd been friends with for years. His friend claimed he'd found a piece of ancient pink pottery while diving out in the Gulf but didn't have the money to explore further. He offered to sell Miscovich a nautical map to the site.

Armen Keteyian: So what does he say to you that convinces you that this map has any authenticity to it?

Jay Miscovich: Well, he just said, basically, "I found this on the site." When he showed me this encrusted -- that's not clean -- we didn't clean it -- this encrusted piece of pottery, I immediately got very excited. Because knowing this is absolutely, 100 percent, a colonial era piece of pottery.

Miscovich says he paid his friend $500 for the map. We wanted to confirm the story. But Miscovich refused to give us the man's name or whereabouts, saying he paid him $50,000 more after finding the emeralds in exchange for signing away all rights to the treasure.

Armen Keteyian: Why have the circumstances surrounding the man who sold you the map been such a sensitive and secret part of the story?

Jay Miscovich: I wouldn't say it is a secret part of the story. I mean, we signed, I had attorneys prepare legal agreements. I felt he should be compensated after I made the big find but it may not even be even the wreck that he was diving on. So we are not sure but it did put us out there that day.

On that day, Miscovich and his longtime dive partner Steve Elchlepp, followed the map and GPS coordinates to the site of the supposed wreck. They say they didn't detect anything below right there, but while searching about a mile and a half away, they got a hit on their metal detector, and dove in to investigate.