Spring Thievery

Spring Thievery

     I can't believe Spring is here. And with Spring comes some felony level wine shenanigans. Turns out Rudy Kurniawan isn't the only wine swindler in town. A fellow named Omar Khan has taken the mantle of wine conniver with almost $10 million dollars not in counterfeit wine  but wine related scams. Omar led his "marks" on for more than a year before the government took notice. An indictment was filed in February '20 after investigation began on this matter.

     Then Omar did the most honorable thing ever. No he didn't. He fled the country. Son of a diplomat from Pakistan, Omar was privy to various places where his father was stationed like NY, Japan and the Middle East. I'm guessing this is where our good buddy acquired some knowledge about wine. It's said that Omar went to Oxford. I wonder if he was on the Oxford Blind Wine Tasting team? I don't think so.

     But he did get married and started name dropping some iconic labels down on his blog and his opinions on daily life. Then around 14 years ago, Khan relocated to New York and started to hypnotize people into thinking he's a wine guru. Omar had actually studied Nuero Linguistic Programming to aid in his lies. He charmed them so much, they ponied up millions. 

     He secured posh locations, wine education via lectures and wine tastings followed by dinner by a fancy chef. All it cost was $5 grand and Omar would feed and drink you out a few times a year. He did this at Michelin level restaurants and had interesting guest speakers and wine. What's not to love. Maybe that part wasn't so scammy. But I've read that he led discussions closely and I'm sure his studies in hypnotherapy helped with that. I wonder if that's why some people that attended his galas claimed it was the most incredible wine experiences they ever had.

     Omar even had a Master of Wine eating out of his hand. Jennifer Simonetti Bryan called him meticulous. I wish she would elaborate. What was he meticulous about? Vintage, taste, vineyard, all of the above? If you can scam a MW the rest of the sheep will follow. This guy even bounced checks during this period.

     After one of his wine dinners during the fall '16, one of the attendees was a storied winemaker from Bordeaux, Pierre Lurton. What he says will hold a lot of weight because he's made wine for Cheval Blanc (I hate Sideways) and Premier Cru Superieur Chateau d'Yquem. Lurton "invited" Khan and his group to Bordeaux and took him by the hand around the cellar and vineyards of Chateau Cheval Blanc. Not a lot of people get this treatment at Cheval Blanc. Don't believe me? Show up in Bordeaux and knock on their front door. Good luck.

     But you have to hand it to this guy, he weaseled his way into Chateau Petrus, yet another fantastic right bank Bordeaux. Coaxing Olivier Berrouet, el jefe, to let Omar jog around the vineyard and taste. Ballsy. If you saw someone do this you'd probably think, this guy is "fixer" level. After this trip, Khan returned to NY and immediately started business dealings that may not pass muster in an audit, let alone repaying original investors. 

     Wash and repeat. To the tune of almost $10 million dollars. He does this until 2020 when he's indicted by the DOJ. This fool is now living in Sri Lanka trying to live his best life when he overstayed his visa and deported. Cut to early '24 in February at JFK and we see our main man Omar arrested. It's so crazy that the judge ruling the case said: "You're investing in someone else having dinner?" But he did actually swindle David Sinegal, at least, for $125,000 for wine (asset grade I presume) that he never received. He also left at one one bar tab unpaid at $5 grand, dick.

     Choose your wine consultants wisely for 2024. Have a great spring everybody. 


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