International businessman sentenced to prison for ‘wine-and-dine scheme’

A New York-based international businessman once described as one of the “world’s most global consultants and speakers” has been sentenced to prison and ordered to pay more than $6 million in restitution to victims of a wine-and-dining scam he ran.

Omar Khan, 58, was sentenced to two years in prison for his role in an investment fraud scheme involving rare and expensive wines and impersonating an attorney during the scheme, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Monday.

On March 28, 2024, Khan pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft.

“Whether the fraudulent schemes involve business ventures, cryptocurrency or fine wine, this office’s expert prosecutors will bring perpetrators of these crimes to justice,” said U.S. Attorney Damien Williams for the Southern District of New York. “Omar Khan swindled millions of dollars from his victims and left ruin in his wake of lies, but he has now rightfully served two years in federal prison and been ordered to pay restitution to his victims.”

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Omar Khan with a wine bottle

Omar Khan pleaded guilty to identity theft in connection with the wine-and-dining fraud scheme and was sentenced to prison. (Omar Khan/Instagram/Fox News)

The Justice Department said Khan orchestrated a global fraud scheme between 2015 and 2019 that included soliciting investments at wine tastings and networking events.

Khan is founder and president of Firm 1, a management consulting firm in New York City, and is described on his website as “one of the world’s most global consultants and speakers.”

In a profile of Kahn in the July 2, 2015 issue of Forbes magazine, “An elite supper club for business professionals and wine lovers,” he was also called an “avid wine lover.”

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Omar Khan-5

Omar Khan was once described as a “wine enthusiast”. (Omar Khan/Instagram/Fox News)

According to the Justice Department, Khan hosted networking events for wealthy and successful individuals to find investors for businesses and events that involved rare vintage wines and expensive dinners.

One such dinner took place on December 13, 2017, and was titled “An Evening of Bold Duos and Alluring Trios,” where Khan was treated to vintage wines along with Nantucket Sound scallops, oysters, caviar, risotto cooked in bone marrow broth, and other expensive dishes.

The Justice Department said in the indictment and court statements that Khan sold the idea that guests would receive a return on their investment if they invested in other expensive dinners, networking events and ventures.

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Omar Khan 2

Omar Khan pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft and was sentenced to two years in prison. (Omar Khan/Instagram/Fox News)

However, he also allegedly lied to potential investors to lure them in and, with few exceptions, embezzled the investment money and used it for personal expenses.

Unable to repay the loans, Khan made false statements to investors.

In one instance, Khan met a New York retiree, identified as Victim 1, at a dinner party in early 2015. Khan continued to be in contact with Victim 1 and developed a friendship, and eventually Khan recruited the victim to become an investor.

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Omar Khan at dinner

Omar Khan is accused of lying to potential investors to lure them into investing and then embezzling the money. (Omar Khan/Instagram/Fox News)

Initially, Victim 1 invested small amounts of money that evolved into larger sums. For example, in 2018, Khan convinced Victim 1 to invest approximately $5 million in a prestigious French vineyard in Bordeaux, France.

Mr. Khan pitched the investment as a consulting contract for a Vineyard-backed New York club, then dragged it out for months and invented excuses for why the deal wouldn’t come through, the Justice Department alleges.

In an email to Victim 1, Khan said the funds were “in transit,” but the next day falsely claimed the IRS had placed a lien on his business account for unrelated activity in Dubai.

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Khan with a wine glass in hand

The Justice Department said Khan defrauded investors and misappropriated their money for personal use. (Omar Khan Instagram/Fox News)

In February 2018, Khan told another victim, identified as Victim No. 2, that the bank had delayed transferring money to the victim because of missing authorization documents.

The following month, Khan told Victim 2 that his lawyers had sent a legal demand letter to the bank to resolve the issue.

In both emails, Khan claims to have forwarded emails from his lawyers regarding delayed bank transfers. He also claims in the emails that his lawyers have “issued a legal demand letter” to the banks to resolve the issue.

The Justice Department said emails purportedly sent by Khan’s lawyer were fraudulent and that he had impersonated his own lawyer.

The list of victims began to grow, and on September 3, 2019, several people filed civil lawsuits against Khan, alleging that he persuaded them to attend wine dinners and invest in ventures based on fraudulent misrepresentations.

Khan fled to Sri Lanka after the New York Post ran a series of articles about him and the lawsuit. He was deported from Sri Lanka in February 2024 and arrested at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport.

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“Omar Khan’s wine-and-dine scheme has outlived its usefulness. For four years, Khan exploited his reputation in the wine industry, using empty promises of lavish networking events in the future to subvert millions of dollars from good-will investors, all while using a lack of profits as an excuse,” FBI Deputy Director James Smith said. “He used his public reputation as a wine enthusiast to lure his victims into raising large sums of money, some of whom lost their entire investments.”

In addition to the two-year prison sentence, Khan was placed on probation for one year and ordered to pay $6,699,582 in restitution to the victim.