A HAMPSHIRE antiques dealer who duped unsuspecting collectors by forging signatures in books of famous writers like Winston Churchill and Robert Louis Stevenson will be sentenced today.
Allan Formhals found the books and magazines at car boot sales and at a recycling centre. He added the signature and then sold them on eBay to collectors as the real thing.
He also lied about the provenance of the items, making thousands of pounds defrauding collectors from as far afield as Texas, US.
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 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 died in 2007.
Formhals denied 15 counts of fraud from 2009 to 2011 but was found guilty of ten counts in October. He was acquitted on two counts and the jury could not decide on a further three counts.
He will be sentenced at Southampton Crown Court.
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.''