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Feds Accuse Texas Man of Selling Fake Native American Jewelry Online

If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in federal prison for mail fraud.

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A federal grand jury has indicted a Kingwood, TX, man for selling allegedly fraudulent Native American-made goods on the internet.

The indictment charges 58-year-old Kevin Charles Kowalis with four counts of mail fraud and four counts of misrepresentation of Indian goods under the Indian Arts and Crafts Act. If convicted, Kowalis could face up to 20 years in federal prison for mail fraud and up to five years for misrepresentation of Indian goods, according to a press release from the U.S. District Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas.

The indictment alleges that from Jan. 23 to July 15, 2020, Kowalis fraudulently marketed and sold on eBay.com pieces of jewelry he received from a manufacturer in the Philippines unaffiliated with any federally recognized Native American tribe.  The indictment alleges that Kowalis described the items for sale on eBay as “Native American Indian Handmade,” “Zuni,” “Navajo” and “genuine Indian handcrafted.”

He allegedly received payment through PayPal.  Authorities say that once he received payment, Kowalis shipped the jewelry to the customer using the U.S. Postal Service, including several packages containing counterfeit Native American-style jewelry to a purchaser in San Antonio.

“Native American art fraud is a serious crime that hurts consumers and severely impacts the economic and cultural livelihood of Native American artists, craftspeople and Tribes,” said Edward Grace, assistant director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement. “Our special agents investigate crimes in violation of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act on behalf of the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Indian Arts and Crafts Board. By working together, we can help protect and preserve Native American art and craftwork for future generations.”

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