Antiques Dealer Guilty Of Faking Signatures

A New Forest antiques dealer has been found guilty of forging the signatures of famous historical figures including Winston Churchill and Elisabeth I.

An antiques dealer was found guilty today of duping unsuspecting collectors by forging the signatures in books of famous writers like Winston Churchill and Robert Louis Stevenson.

Allan Formhals found the books and magazines in car boot sales and a recycling centre, added the signature and then sold them on eBay as the real thing, Southampton Crown Court heard.

He made thousands of pounds defrauding collectors from as far afield as Texas after also lying about the provenance of the items, the court was told.

Police also found forged signatures from Oliver Cromwell, Elizabeth I and Marie Antoinette among others when the 66-year-old's home was searched.

He claimed in emails that the Winston Churchill books came from the home of famous World War Two fighter ace, Squadron Leader Neville Duke - who lived near him in Milford-on-sea in Hampshire and was a friend of the wartime leader - who had died in 2007.

Formhals denied 15 counts of fraud from 2009 to 2011 but was found guilty of ten counts.

He was acquitted of two counts and the jury could not decide on a further three counts.

The case was adjourned and Formhals will be sentenced on December 21.

Following the verdict, prosecutor Simon Edwards from the Crown Prosecution Service said:

''Allan Formhals had put in place an effective plan to defraud collectors of thousand of pounds.

''His fraudulent scheme consisted of him forging signatures in books by historic authors such as Winston Churchill and Robert Louis Stevenson to dupe unsuspecting collectors into buying what they thought were genuine historic items, but were in fact false.

''Like any professional fraudster, Formhals knew that in order to lure potential victims into buying his fake items he would have to use genuine historic facts to make his story credible to connoisseurs.''