CUOMO SUES TO STOP NEWBURGH ANTIQUES SELLER WHO SOLD THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS IN FAKE ARTIFACTS

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. (October 15, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that his office is suing to stop a Newburgh resident’s fraudulent antique artifact operation where he sold fake items for thousands of dollars over the Internet.

Mircea Veleanu sold artifacts online claiming that they contained high quality and expensive jade, when they actually were made of quartz or glass. He then refused to provide refunds or acknowledge that the pieces were fake. The Attorney General’s lawsuit seeks to permanently bar Veleanu from selling jade artifacts unless they can be verified as authentic and obtain restitution for consumers he defrauded, plus penalties and costs to the state.

“This individual preyed on collectors of expensive antiques and artifacts and didn’t deliver on his promises,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Our lawsuit seeks to shut down this fraudulent operation and get money to those who are affected.”

Cuomo urges consumers to contact his Poughkeepsie Regional Office at 845-485-3900 if they purchased art or artifacts from Veleanu that they suspect are knockoffs or fake.

Veleanu is a retired doctor and collector of antique jade carvings and other oriental artifacts. He portrayed himself as an expert on such wares and has authored three books devoted to his collection. Since at least 2001, Veleanu began selling items from his collection, including jade carvings, under the business name of “Objets D’Arts Uniques.” In 2002, he began selling items through eBay and GoAntiques.com.

In 2007, Veleanu, of Susan Drive in Newburgh and Heritage Hills in Somers, sold two strings of jade Tibetan Prayer Beads (malas) to a consumer, one of which he falsely claimed was made of “fei tsui” jade, an extremely valuable and high quality type of jade. Over the next two years, he convinced the same consumer to purchase seven malas for a total price of $12,365. Veleanu continually assured the consumer that the jade was pure and of the highest quality. He also sold two calligraphy brushes for $2,400 and falsely described them as containing high-quality jadeite beads.

Upon closer inspection after purchase, the consumer saw that the beads contained bubbles indicating that they were actually made of glass and not jade. The consumer then subjected all of the jade malas she purchased from Veleanu to the American Gemological Trade Association (AGTA), which determined that they were all made of dyed quartz instead of jade. Veleanu refused to provide refunds from the consumer, rejected the labs’ results and continued to insist that the items were indeed made of authentic jade.

The Attorney General’s lawsuit seeks to permanently bar Veleanu from advertising and selling jade items unless it has first been tested and confirmed as legitimate by the American Gemological Trade Association Testing Center or a lab of equal reputation. The suit also seeks to require an accounting of all of Veleanu’s customers and full restitution to those he defrauded, including $13,983.03 to a single complainant. Cuomo’s lawsuit also seeks a civil penalty of $5,000 for each deceptive act and costs.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Garin under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General-in-Charge of the Poughkeepsie Regional Office Vincent Bradley.

Comments

  1. It is sad that in our country the Attorney General has power to prosecute an innocent person accused of fraud. I am a law obeying citizen who never committed nor would commit such an act. The lawsuit by the AG started months ago and I have proven all allegations were groundless. Rather than judging my alleged wrong-doings in court, AG is acting as both prosecutor and judge, depriving me of the right to defend myself and trying the case in public via insulting/demeaning statements as: "This individual preyed on collectors of expensive antiques and artifacts and didn't deliver on his promises." I don't know what AG means "didn't deliver on his promises" The libelous and insulting statement gives the impression to people unfamiliar with the case, that I am a criminal engaged in defrauding numerous victims. In reality, the entire lawsuit is based on a single complaint by someone who purchased 7 jadeite Tibetan prayer beads mala, over a period of almost 2 years. The quality of the mala, made her imagine she was buying jadeite jewelry of "Imperial" grade, when in reality she bought intricate carved surface artifacts known as Tibetan mala prayer beads. AG misrepresents the facts as in the statement: "Mircea Veleanu sold artifacts on line claiming that they contained high quality of expensive jade, when they actually were made of quartz or glass." This is a gross distortion of the truth. The 7 jadeite mala sold to a woman in Connecticut who is the single complainant, were not made from quartz or glass as claimed by AG. I have proven with ample reference citation from literature on the subject that the 7 Tibetan mala were made from jadeite. The single complainant in my suit bought 2 jadeite scholar's calligraphy brushes with jadeite handles that later she returned for refund, claiming that those items are made from glass. Upon return, I inspected the 2 items and confirmed to her that the items indeed were made from jadeite. Subsequently, she begged me to resell those 2 items back to her, which I did not do. So, the claim of AG is based on hearsay that is only a personal opinion, not verified by another person knowledgeable in this field and contradicted by reality. Another misconception sustained by the AG is that I refused to provide "refunds". There was only the one complainant already mentioned who was offered a refund for all purchased mala, minus third party payments she made, money that was not received by me. My refund offers to her were not because of guilt feelings. Refunds are available to all my customers after 60 days, when third party refunds are not more refundable. Another misleading and wrong allegation of the AG is that I sold a jadeite mala entitled "fei tsui". Fei tsui in Mandarin Chinese means and translates as jadeite and I have provided extensive literature on the subject proving such. AG confuses and wrongly believes that Fei Tsui jadeite means "Imperial" jade that indeed is the highest quality of jadeite priced in the 5 to 6 figures. AG omits the fact that I never used the term "Imperial" jade, but only fei tsui that means JADEITE! I already disputed the claim of sold "glass" items as completely groundless. This single person complainant had the 7 mala tested by AGTA, a defunct company that went out of business in July 2009. The AGTA reports have shown that all sold 7 Tibetan mala were made from quartzite, a gemstone that contains jadeite in its composition. Quartzite is also named jadeite jade and also pyroxene jadeite rock. I provided extensive references from the literature on the suject supporting my statement that quartzite is the same as jadeite jade. AG omits that in response to his misrepresented statements, I provided statements proving the contrary. Again, rather than proving their claims in court, the AG office has taken this approach to attack and discredit my reputation as a scholar in Oriental arts and law abiding citizen.
    Mircea Veleanu

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