TV Art Auction Scam
November 5, 2010
A television show featuring an art auction pulled in about $20 million, but it was a scam…about five years ago, the FBI started receiving calls from victims.
Ms. Ballew: A television show featuring an art auction pulled in about $20 million, but it was a scam…about five years ago, the FBI started receiving calls from victims.
Mr. Calarco: “Saying that they’d been defrauded of a few thousand dollars of some art they had bought that they found out was fake.”
Ms. Ballew: Supervisory Special Agent Chris Calarco of FBI Los Angeles says the calls kept coming in. IRS and LAPD joined forces with the Bureau.
Mr. Calarco: “This was a multi-million-dollar fraud.”
Ms. Ballew: The auction was rigged, the art was misrepresented, and there were fake bidders used to drive up prices.
Mr. Calarco: “If you can imagine a fraud scheme where they were on TV being beamed throughout the United States, as well as the world, for up to 10 hours of programming a week, selling fake art.”
Ms. Ballew: More than 10,000 victims.
Mr. Calarco: “The three main subjects pled guilty and agreed to forfeiting all the art that we seized, the money seized, as well as received prison sentences of between five and eight years.”
Ms. Ballew: I’m Denise Ballew of the Bureau, and that’s the FBI’s Closed Case of the Week.
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