Attorney General Cuomo Announces Court Decision Requiring Bogus Antique Artifact Operation To Pay Penalties And Restitution
POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. (November 10, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that his office has won a lawsuit requiring a Newburgh resident who ran an online fraudulent antique artifact operation to pay restitution to those he defrauded.
As a result of a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Cuomo, Dutchess County Acting Supreme Court Justice Hon. Thomas J. Dolan issued a decision and order requiring restitution for any consumers he defrauded, plus penalties of up to $5,000 per violation and costs to the state. The order also permanently bars Veleanu from selling jade artifacts unless they can be verified as authentic.
Cuomo continues to urge 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.
“He called himself an antiques dealer but he really dealt in lies and deceit,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “Any business that misrepresents products that it sells will be held accountable.”
An investigation by Cuomo’s office determined that 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. Veleanu, a retired doctor and collector of antique jade carvings and other oriental artifacts, 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.
Under the decision, Veleanu is permanently barred 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. Veleanu must also provide a complete accounting of all of his customers and pay full restitution to those he defrauded.
The Attorney General thanked the Gemological Institute of America for assisting in the investigation.
The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Garin under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General-in-Charge of the Poughkeepsie Regional Office Vincent Bradley and Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs J. David Sampson. Investigator Judy Koerber assisted in the case.