Indian American jeweler Raman Handa arrested in Los Angeles for $7 million fraud scheme


A well-known Indian American jeweler, the former owner of the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Alpha Omega Jewelers, Raman Handa, 67, was arrested last week in Los Angeles after living abroad for almost 10 years following a scheme to defraud the company’s former lenders.

Handa, formerly of Lexington, Mass., was arrested on Tuesday, Feb. 21, at Los Angeles International Airport as he returned to the United States from India where he had been living for almost 10 years.

A 2011 indictment unsealed charges Handa with 12 counts of wire fraud, according to the Justice Department.

According to the indictment, Handa was the owner of Alpha Omega Jewelers, a fine watch and jewelry retailer in the Boston-area. From May 2007 to December 2007, Alpha Omega experienced severe financial troubles, and had difficulty keeping current with loans it had with several banks.

As part of the scheme to defraud Alpha Omega’s lenders and in order to obtain additional loans, Handa allegedly fabricated inventory on reports that were submitted to the banks. These reports were used by the banks to calculate the credit limit for Alpha Omega, and included inventory such as luxury watches and high-end items from Indian jewelry vendors, that Alpha Omega never in fact possessed.

On Dec. 15, 2007, Handa and his family abruptly left the United States. After discovering Handa’s departure, Alpha Omega’s lender took control of the company and conducted a detailed review of Alpha Omega’s inventory. According to the indictment, the review revealed over $7 million dollars in missing or unaccounted for inventory.

The Boston Globe reported Handa had among his clientele President Bill Clinton and several Hollywood celebrities, including Ben Affleck and Eva Longoria.

Alpha Omega Jewelers, which specialized in fine watches and jewelry, opened in Harvard Square in 1980. The business later opened stores at the Prudential Center in Boston, and at shopping malls in Burlington and Natick.

The charge of wire fraud provides for a sentence of no greater than 20 years in prison, three years supervised release and a fine of $250,000 on each count.