New York-based antiquities dealers arrested for fraud scheme

RIDGEWOOD, New Jersey (WABC) -- Two New York-based antiquities dealers are accused of making up the provenance of the items they sold, possibly concealing that they may have been stolen or looted.

The FBI raided a home in Ridgewood, New Jersey Tuesday, in connection with the probe.

Officials say the owner of "Fortuna Fine Arts" in Manhattan, Erdal Dere, and his associate Faisal Khan were indicted on charges they defrauded buyers and brokers.

They allegedly pretended that now-deceased collectors had been prior owners of items they sold.

Federal law enforcement agents arrested Dere at his residence in New York City, while Khan was also arrested at his residence in New Jersey Tuesday morning.

Dere, 50, was charged in the indictment with wire fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

Khan, 47, was charged in the Indictment with wire fraud conspiracy and wire fraud.

Officials say Dere allegedly communicated the false provenances featuring the names of deceased collectors to buyers and brokers and also fabricated documents purporting to evidence the prior ownership of antiquities by the deceased collectors, providing them to buyers and brokers, including to an auction house in New York City in connection with a December 2015 antiquities auction.

Khan allegedly assisted Fortuna in finding buyers for items from its pre-existing inventory and acquired new items, primarily in Asia, that Khan worked with Fortuna to sell to collectors in the United States and internationally, according to officials.

With Khan's knowledge, Dere is accused of providing false provenance information to potential buyers of items that Khan had personally located and acquired, listing deceased collectors as the long-time owners of items which Khan and Dere well knew had not been owned by those collectors.

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