Antiques dealer, Allan Formhals, has been found guilty of selling books containing faked signatures on ebay. The signatures were of famous people such as Oliver Cromwell, Winston Churchill and Pablo Piccaso.
According to BBC News, the court found Mr Formhals guilty of eight counts of fraud and two counts of possessing articles for the use in fraud. He was cleared of two counts of fraud and the jury were unable to reach a verdict on a further three counts.
The Daily Echo reports that one of the witnesses, Basil Boatright III, had travelled from Texas, USA to present evidence. Mr Boatright told Southampton Crown Court that he had paid £43,000 for books purportedly containing Winston Churchill's signature.
Heart South Coast News reports, the court heard how Formhals bought books at car boot sales, added the "signature" of a famous person and then advertised them on ebay as the real thing. Formhals would even invent a provenance for the books.
The deception was uncovered when Mr Taylor Smith, who had bought books bearing Churchill's signature from Formhals, had an expert examine them. The expert had no difficulty in establishing the signatures were fakes.
Another collector bought books from Formhals that were supposedly signed by such famous people as Joseph Conrad and Robert Louis Stevenson. Again they were all fakes.
When the police searched Formhals house, they found many other books containing fake signatures.
Mr Formhals denied all the charges. He said he was not an expert and had sold the books as signed rather than as signed by.
After the verdict, Mr Edwards, who prosecuted the trial said:
Alan Formhals had put in place an effective plan to defraud collectors of thousand of pounds.