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Document and Benefit Fraud

Manhattan jeweler pleads guilty to forging US government agency seal

NEW YORK — A jewelry wholesaler has pleaded in federal court to forging the seal of a U.S. government federal agency. The guilty plea is the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and the Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI).

Tejas Mehta, 36, was arrested Aug. 5, 2012, by OPR and IRS special agents for forging the seal of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). CBP is a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Mehta, the owner of Saritijediam Inc., doing business as Design Trends, is a jeweler who conducts business in Manhattan's diamond district. He used the fraudulent CBP seal to allegedly steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from his business associates and other diamond and precious stones wholesalers.

According to court documents, Mehta received diamonds, jewelry and precious stones from other wholesalers under consignment. Once in his possession, he would sell the jewels. Instead of giving the proceeds to the owner of the merchandise as he agreed to do, he would falsely claim that he could not return or sell the merchandise because it had been seized by federal authorities.

Mehta defrauded three victims by accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in precious stone diamonds.

Mehta then allegedly made excuses and did not return the stones or any funds from the sale of the diamonds. He told the victim's attorney that the stones had been seized by federal authorities. He used the fraudulent seal to falsely state that the diamonds, precious stones and jewelry – which were consigned to him – had been seized by CBP.

This case is being prosecuted by the U.S Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York.