RAPAPORT... A jewelry wholesaler from Manhattan was arrested on August 5 for allegedly committing wire fraud and forging the seal of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB), according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Tejas Mehta, 36, the owner of Saritijediam Inc., doing business as Design Trends, was accused of using the forged customs seal to allegedly steal approximately $1 million from his business associates and other diamond and precious stones dealers.
Mehta received diamonds, jewelry and precious stones on memo and would sell the goods, according to the complaint. However, prosecutors alleged that rather than paying the traders, Mehta would tell them that he could not return or sell the merchandise because it had been seized by U.S. authorities.
According to court documents, one diamond trader consigned $650,000 worth of goods to Mehta, who then allegedly made excuses and did not return the stones or any funds from the sale. Mehta told the victim's attorney that the stones had been seized by U.S. authorities. Mehta allegedly used the fraudulent seal to falsely state that the diamonds, precious stones and jewelry, which were consigned to him, had been seized by CBP, according to the government's statement.
"The production and use of fictitious government documents and seals is a serious crime," said Terence S.Opiola, a special agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) office of professional responsibility (OPR). "ICE OPR is committed to aggressively investigating these crimes and takes great pride in protecting the integrity of all ICE and CBP employees."
Toni Weirauch, the acting special agent in charge for IRS-CI in New York, said, ''IRS criminal investigation is always eager to work with our federal law enforcement partners and share our financial investigative expertise. We are proud to work with ICE on this important investigation, especially because of its governmental integrity aspect.''