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Famed Rolex Expert and Author James Dowling Being Sued for Fake Rolexes

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Rolex Expert and Author James Dowling Being Sued by New York Billionaire for $700,000 in FAKE Rolex Watches. Click to read the article. This article reports that Mr. James Dowling is being sued for selling $700,000 in fake Rolex watches to a New York billionaire. #counterfeiter? #sinner? #crook?

TIME will tell. We wonder if law enforcement will be getting involved. If true, this is major international fraud.

James Dowling Being Sued

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North Carolina Man Arrested for Selling Counterfeit Rolex

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Ashville, North Carolina, USA - A man from Marion, NC has been accused of selling a high-end counterfeit or replica timepiece to an undercover police officer.

Gary Bailey, a thirty-nine year old male who lives in the 500 block of Lukes Loop, was charged with Felony obtaining property by false pretense and Felony Counterfeit Trademark on Wednesday, according to Warrants at the Buncombe County Magistrate's office.

Bailey allegedly sold a counterfeit Rolex watch to an undercover Asheville Police Department officer for $5,800 on Wednesday, according to the Warrants.

Bailey is currently being held at the Buncombe County Detention Facility on a $40,000 bond.

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16 Year Old In Thailand Arrested For Pulling Knife On Man Who Refused To Buy Replica Watch

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Thailand.  A sixteen year-old teen was Arrested after allegedly threatening a Danish citizen at knifepoint after the Danish fellow chose not to buy one of the 16 year old's fake (replica, counterfeit) watches.  

Lars Jensen, 50, stated he was enjoying a drink at a pub at around 11:00 p.m. when the young replica timepiece seller and another man approached him to buy counterfeit watches (imitations of luxury watch brands).

The Danish business owner of 25 years, chose not to purchase one of the fake watch and expressed his disdain with the illegal products in such a manner that the fake watch sellers reacted with furious anger and pulled out a knife in retaliation. They then chose to leave without any further incident and Jensen went to the police to report the incident.  

Police Officers found the seller who had pulled the knife on Jensen and Arrested the teen and then took him to the station for for further questioning regarding the incident.

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Consumers Asked to Report Cases of Counterfeit Watches

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The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) has urged Kenyans to report all incidents involving counterfeit watches that they come across. 

Speaking Wednesday at a work shop at Kisii University, Patricia Kimanthi (the Corporate Communications manager of KEBS), stated that the Kenyan people should accept responsibility and report any replica, clone, knockoff, or counterfeit watches that have not been authorized by the manufacturer. 

"We are custodians of what we consume and have the power to say yes or no!  We see all these malpractices but the problem is that we do not report them," she said. 

Kimanthi also said that management utilizes international standards to monitor the trademarks and associated quality of both imports and exports.

Gladys Ombongi, who works for KEBS, stated that they asssist police when dealing with criminals trafficking in, buying, possessing, and manufacturing counterfeit timepieces. 

"Counterfeiting is illegal and unfair trade. We therefore work with the police to arrest fraudsters," stated Ombongi emphatically. 

 

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Unpublicized Arrests = Feeding Frenzy For Cops Looking To Bust Replica Sellers

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Unpublicized Arrests = Feeding Frenzy For Cops Looking To Bust Replica Sellers

This ought to scare you if you are considering buying, selling, possessing, and/or manufacturing replica watches (watches bearing unauthorized logos).  Cops everywhere are quietly feasting on craigslist, backpage, ebay, classified sites, and with replica websites.  

People are getting busted frequently for buying and selling replica watches posted (for instance) on craigslist.  Most of these stories are kept quiet so that others will continue to buy and sell replica watches.  What is the benefit?  Revenue for the Criminal Justice System.

The perpetrators don't want publicity, so they keep it quiet.  Law Enforcement doesn't want publicity, because then it will cause the fake watch listings on these websites to drastically diminish.  This would then cut down on Arrests and the revenue generated for bail, attorney's fees, fines, fees, Court costs, etc.  

In other words, just because you're not seeing it in the news, doesn't mean that people aren't getting busted left and right for replica Rolex watches; replica Cartier watches, etc.  Clone watches are illegal.   Most states have statutes regarding trademark counterfeiting and/or trafficking in counterfeit goods.  The U.S. Federal level law is even more serious.  So you can have agencies such as the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Secret Service, ICE, and local Police and Sheriff Departments all investigating you... oh yeah... along with Private Investigators for Rolex, Richmont, Swatch Group, etc.

The civil cases are mostly not publicized, either.  The lawsuits that arise out of trafficking in replica watches are quite numerous.  It is almost cookie cutter these days, and you'll end up with a Judgment against you.  If you don't pay the Judgment, you can repeatedly be held in Contempt of Court and put in jail repeatedly.  You can ruin you whole life by buying or owning a replica watch.  Is it worth it?  The decision is yours.  You can buy a genuine watch and have no worries or you can get busted and spend tens of thousands of dollars on the Justice System and then be put in jail or prison coupled with getting sued and then get put into jail repeatedly if you're unable to pay the Judgment against you.

Help shut down the replica watch market.  Clone watches are illegal.  Replica watches are illegal.  Knock-offs are illegal.  Report any person or company you believe is in possession of a replica Rolex or other luxury brand of watch to us immediately, and we will take it from there by contacting the local and Federal agencies as well as the legal departments for the brands upon which the trademark infringement is being perpetrated.  Stay out of jail this holiday season.  Don't traffic in replica watches.

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Big Replica Watch Bust in Malaysia

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Malaysia - JOHOR BARU: The Johor Domestic Trade, Co-op and Consumerism Ministry (KPDNKK) seized RM 56,400 in replica timepieces from various watch brands on Wednesday November 11, 2015.

Director Nor Nekman Jaimom stated that a team of fifteen agents from the state KPDNKK department raided 6 out of 7 kiosks identified as selling counterfeit watches in a shopping mall at Jalan Tebrau today.

The 3 hour raid process that started at approximately 11:45 am, resulted in approximately 1,750 timepieces from 4 famous brands being seized and confiscated.

"The operation was conducted after a one-month investigation by our team and also by collecting information from complainants about the kiosks which was (sic) selling counterfeit watches at the shopping mall," he stated.

Replica watches such as Rolex, Omega, Breitling, Cartier, Hublot, Audemars Piguet, Movado, TAG Heuer, and many others are illegal throughout the world.  We recommend that you don't possess, buy, sell, or manufacture replica watches.  We also request that you report any person who is in possession of, who is a buyer of, who is a seller of, or who is a manufacturer of replica timepieces.

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Pawn Shop Accused of Selling Replica Rolex As Authentic

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It is a Criminal Violation of State and Federal Law for an individual or a business to sell replica or counterfeit goods.

Try to imagine the shock felt when Mr. Joe Tully took a timepiece he bought from U.S. Money Shops located in Fort Oglethorpe to a local jeweler for a service/overhaul.  "I went down to get it serviced at Harry's Watch and Clocks," Tully stated. "He opened it up in front of me and he said this is not Rolex movement and as soon as he did that I drove straight to Fort Oglethorpe and told the guy and they started to say, 'How do we know that you got it from here?'"

When Tully attempted to take the timepiece back for a refund last Saturday, they denied his refund request.  "It made me feel like they were belittling me," Tully said. "It made me feel like I wasn't important. It was just an awful experience all the way around."  Joe Tully purchased the 700 dollar watch three years ago.  And that's where U.S. Money Shops takes exception.

"We can't tell after three years what happened or what didn't happen with that watch," said U.S. Money Shops Senior Vice President Jabo Covert. "It's been out of our custody for over three years. We've got no clue and we wish we could do more. We want all of our customers happy but nobody warrants a used item; sold used; as is; for 3 years."

Tully said he would be satisfied with a refund, but may choose to file a lawsuit if he doesn't receive the refund.  "Had that customer brought it back within thirty days, we would've been more than happy to take it back," Covert emphasized. "Certainly, with such a short turn around we would've been able to verify the claims a lot more than after 3 years."  

Tully said he filed a report with the Fort Oglethorpe police on Monday.

It is incumbent on pawn shops to examine the goods they are selling to ensure authenticity and to ensure they are not violating State and Federal Criminal Statutes as well as the Lanham Act which protect Trademarks.  U.S. Money Shops could be facing some very severe legal penalties.  Stay tuned for updates.

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Replica Rolex Watches - Who Is Harmed?

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Annual revenue in the replica timepiece industry is estimated to be more than 1 billion U.S. dollars.  This revenue is derived from people choosing to use that money to buy a watch and then seeking the product and purchasing the timepiece.  

That money should be going to legitimate businesses that sell reputable products, but it's not.  That revenue is being stolen by Counterfeiters.  But from whom are they stealing?  The obvious answer is probably not the most accurate.  Of course, Rolex and other companies are affected by the selling of watches bearing counterfeit trademarks, but there are also other Victims.  Companies like Seiko, Citizen, Timex, and many others who produce watches that retail for amounts in the $100 to $300 price range are losing part of their target demographic due to the option their target market has of buying a fake Rolex.

If a guy only has $200 to spend on a watch, if their were no replica watches available, he would be forced to choose a reputable brand's product.  He would be spending his money on a Timex, Citizen, Invicta, Seiko, etc., but he's not.  Many times, he is buying a knock-off Rolex, Hublot, TAG Heuer, Omega, or Breitling watch.  So the manufacturers of Timex watches, Citizen Watches, and Seiko Watches, as well other brands are severely damaged by the sales of watches bearing counterfeit trademarks.  Not only that, but the retail stores that sell these reputable watches are having money stolen from them.

One can also make the argument that many people who choose to buy a replica Rolex, might choose to buy a real Rolex via credit instrument such as a credit card or bank financing if that person didn't have replicas available to him/her.  He may choose to pay $300 per month on his credit card in order to wear the Rolex logo around his wrist.  Or he may choose to save his money for awhile in order to be able to pay cash, but he's not.  He's spending a couple hundred dollars on a fake.

Of course, there are also individuals who can afford to buy a Rolex; want a Rolex; but would rather not spend the money on a Rolex... maybe they would rather keep the money in the stock market.  Some affluent individuals are not wired to want to spend large amounts of money on a wristwatch.  Hopefully they would choose to buy a lower end watch that doesn't infringe on the intellectual property rights of others, but some do not.  There are many accounts of celebrities being caught wearing fake watches.  If the fakes weren't available, the celebs would need to choose between having a nice lower end brand or coughing up their money for a piece of haute horlogerie.  

There are arrests happening almost every day throughout the world with regards to replica watches.  We have personally posted advertisements on craigslist to inform buyers and sellers that buying, selling, possessing, and manufacturing replica watches is criminal conduct.  These ads are quickly removed from craigslist.  It is our firm belief that the Parties who request the removal of these ads are Cops with whom we are not currently working.  We believe they look at it as a funny little feeding frenzy.  "Look for the dumb guys selling counterfeit watches for a couple hundred bucks."  Then arrest them.  Then that guy who listed the fake Rolex on craigslist has to spend thousands of dollars on attorney's fees, court costs, time in jail, fines, fees, etc.  As far as we are concerned, these individuals selling replica watches are simply looked at as sources of revenue for Law Enforcement.

We advise anybody who possesses, buys, sells, and/or manufacturers replica watches to stop immediately.  The replica watch industry causes a large amount of damage to watch manufacturers of high-end and low-end watches; to the retail industry; and unnecessarily lines the pockets of attorneys and the Justice System.  We are all for assisting Police and the FBI as well as law firms such Gibney, Anthony, & Flaherty in their quest to pursue the sellers of these timepieces, but we would prefer to help end the production of these watches.  Then the damage caused by the replica watch industry would be curtailed.

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Replica Watch Bust in Florida

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PORT ST LUCIE, Fla. - A Treasure Coast man could end up serving time after being accused of selling fake Rolex watches.  The St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office said a private investigator notified them that replica Rolex watches were being sold on Craigslist.  The investigator set up a meeting with the seller in the Wendy's parking lot at 10246 S US 1.

Deputies say the seller had 2 Rolex Perpetual replica watches with diamonds and a replica Presidential Rolex and offered to sell them for $890.00.  They took Daniel Marder into custody and charged him with trying to sell or pass counterfeit merchandise.  

Deputies say that the real watches would be worth $60,000.

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Toluca Lake California Investigation

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Replica Rolex watches are illegal.  Many Criminals have chosen to sell replica watches such as Rolex, Omega, Breitling, Hublot, Audemars Piguet, Patek Philippe, TAG Heuer, Movado and others on craigslist.com.

 
We recently identified an individual located in the Los Angeles, California area who is consistently selling watches bearing counterfeit trademarks via craigslist.com.  This individual lists items including replica Rolexes from Toluca Lake.
This guy is blatant and he's gonna get busted soon.  We believe he may be one of the biggest replica watch suppliers to celebrities in Hollywood.
 
Let's work together to get this guy off the streets.
 
The contact information we have gathered is:
 
Paypal company name:  The Furnessville Picture Co.
Paypal email address:  FurnessvillePictures @ gmail.com
 
Ship From Address:  
The FPC
6829 Lankershim Blvd
Suite 10
N. Hollywood, CA  91604
 
 
Ship to name:  Andrew Moorman
Ship To Address:
Andrew Moorman
10500 Moorpark St.
Apt. 301
Toluca Lake, CA  91602
 
 
He seems to have a website related to the video editing industry.  That website is:  http://www.johnyelvington.com
 
 
We did a controlled buy from this individual, and thought we would pass this information along to you as well.
 
After making a purchase from him over the internet of items that we believed may contain counterfeit trademarks, we shipped an item to this individual (for the purpose of ascertaining his address) that arrived to him on a Saturday at his apartment complex.  Via text message, he stated that he would go downstairs to check his mail after we advised him that the tracking information had shown that the package was delivered.  Shortly thereafter, he confirmed receiving the package.
 
 
We hope this helps any efforts to stop the unlawful trafficking of items bearing counterfeit trademarks.  Good luck with your investigation.

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Bank of China Ordered to Disclose Identities of Counterfeit Goods Sellers

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The replica Rolex and the market for other counterfeit watches is taking a big hit.

Bank of China has chosen to appeal an Order by a New York, USA Court to fine BOC $50,000 per day for choosing to withhold identifying information about bank accounts used by persons and companies who are engaged in the illegal business of trafficking in items bearing counterfeit trademarks.

This appeal. which was filed on Tuesday, is the newest turn in a 5 year legal battle that features one of China's biggest banks versus European and American luxury goods manufacturers looking for newer and more powerful tools to wage the war against massive counterfeiting operations. The BOC states that it is battling to ensure the privacy of its clients as a "matter of national sovereignty."

The brand Gucci, accompanied by other Kering Group luxury brands, seeks twelve million U.S. dollars from BOC for damages caused by a counterfeiting operation it states produced and sold fake goods bearing counterfeit trademarks to customers in the United States.  Utilizing banking records provided to them by JP Morgan Chase, Gucci traced some $530,000 in wire transfers from United States based sellers of items bearing counterfeit trademarks to BOC bank accounts located in China.

BOC has refused (time after time) to provide the necessary information about the accounts in question or to take the action of freezing the funds in the counterfeiters' accounts on behalf of Gucci. Rather, BOC (secretly) chose to freeze more than $890,000 in funds belonging to the counterfeiters' in order to cover BOC's legal fees in the battle with Gucci, according to Chinese legal filings.

The case highlights the incompatibility between the Chinese and U.S. legal systems and could have far-reaching implications for the ability of U.S. courts to extract information from Chinese banks operating in America. That legal firewall has helped Chinese banks serve as safe havens for counterfeiters, who use them to process credit card payments for fakes, often sold online, and move their money around the globe.

The Bank of China, and other Chinese banks embroiled in similar litigation in the U.S., argue that complying with U.S. court orders to disclose client information would violate Chinese bank secrecy laws and subject them to civil and criminal penalties in China. They have so far failed to provide undisputed evidence that those penalties are, in practice, significant.

Gucci could have obtained information about the counterfeiters' accounts in Chinese court or through the Hague convention, said Bank of China lawyer Jane Jiang, a partner at Allen & Overy in Beijing. The Hague convention allows for government-mediated evidence sharing, but critics say China does not comply with such requests in a timely or consistent manner.

"The bank is especially concerned by the court's actions given that other countries disallow disclosure of bank account information to a foreign government without permission from the domestic authorities of the bank's home country, particularly when other international legal channels exist to obtain such documents," Jiang said in an email.

On Sept. 29, New York District Court Judge Richard Sullivan ruled that the U.S. has jurisdiction over the Bank of China, which has four U.S. branches. He ordered the Bank of China to comply with subpoenas for documents related to the accused counterfeiters' bank accounts, even though the accounts are in China. The bank refused, and Sullivan said if the bank did not provide the records by Dec. 7, he would begin imposing a $50,000-a-day contempt fine.

The court "will not tolerate any further attempt by BOC to delay these proceedings and thwart Plaintiff's efforts to access account information that is essential to the prosecution of Plaintiffs' claims against rampant counterfeiters who have consciously used BOC to facilitate their illegal schemes," Sullivan wrote in a Nov. 30 order.

Bank of China USA's chief executive, Xu Chen, told state-run Xinhua news, in an interview published Wednesday, that the case has wide-ranging implications which could discourage Chinese investment in the U.S.

"Many Chinese investors believe the United States has an open and fair legal system, which is a key factor in good business environments," Xu told Xinhua. "Now they might start to worry that they could also get caught in a legal dilemma because of the 'unlimited jurisdiction' sought by some U.S. courts."

Kering Group declined to comment on this matter.

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Counterfeit Watches Costing U.S. Businesses Billions

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With all of the numerous recent raids and lawsuits surrounding counterfeit watches, it's no secret that counterfeiters have become a very serious problem.  However... a recent analysis by NetNames, a worldwide organization specializing in online brand protection and anti-counterfeiting services, has revealed how much it is costing the econom... and the amount is incredibly enormous. According to the firm, the U.S. loses $225 billion dollars a year from counterfeiters.   This includes all counterfeit goods, but watches such as replica Rolex, clone Breitling, fake Patek Philippe, replica Hublot, replica Audemars Piguet, etc... are some of the most prevalent products being counterfeited.  

In an interview with WWD, Stuart Fuller of NetNames called the problem a "global pandemic." Fuller stated that the boom in online shopping has created many more opportunities for the unlawful, counterfeiit goods, which as a market brings in $1.8 trillion globally. In the year 2014 online counterfeit watch sales increased over 15%t, and it is (of course) only expected to keep growing.  Replica watches such as Rolex, Breitling, Movado, Omega, TAG Heuer, etc. are illegal.  Possessing, buying, selling, and/or manufacturing watches bearing unauthorized trademarks is a Felony under U.S. Law.

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Trade Market For Fake Watches

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According to industry estimates from the OECD and UNODC, production of and international trade in counterfeit goods generate revenues of some $250 billion a year. The trade in digital piracy and counterfeit items within the producing countries is worth additional hundreds of billions of dollars.

The goods being counterfeited are not just luxury and brand-name items, but just about every kind of product: electronics and electrical goods, car parts, medicines, foodstuffs, products for home and cosmetic use.

Swiss export industries are particularly hurt by this trade. According to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry, 29 million genuine Swiss watches were produced in 2013 – and 33 million fakes.  The figure is expected to rise as the tally for 2014 and 2015 are completed.

Figures from the World Customs Organization (WCO) suggest that most counterfeits come from China, India, Singapore, the Emirates, Pakistan and Turkey.

The replica timepieces include fakes of watches made by Rolex, Omega, TAG Heuer, Breitling, Patek Philippe, Hublot, Richard Mille, Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin, and many others.  Replica watches are illegal.  If you know of individuals or companies who are in possession of; manufacturing; buying; and/or selling timepieces with counterfeit trademarks, be sure to report them to us here.

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Rolex v. Jonathan Cook (singer, Forever The Sickest Kids)

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This is old news, but is an example of what can happen to an individual for possessing, buying, selling, and/or manufacturing replica watches.

Jonathan Cook, the front man for Dallas based lite-punk band "Forever the Sickest Kids," admitted to having been arrested and charged for selling replica Rolex watches which is a felony that caused him to wind up in Dallas County court.

Mr. Cook, a resident of Burleson, TX, who was arrested with quite a few fake watches he was offering on Craigslist, “I was not aware of how serious such a transaction was and through my experience I have learned that it does not matter how or where I purchased the watches. Simply presenting an item for sale with a false trademark logo is a criminal offense, even if it is well known that the item is a fake.”

Cook's apology made a little bit of news (although these cases rarely get the attention they deserve), and Cook posted on his Twitter account a day later “I brought it to light so that it could be something my fans learn from.”  Cook undoubtedly thought the ordeal was over.

However, it was not... As you might remember, Rolex sued Cook for millions and millions of dollars in damages as a result of his choice to infringe upon the trademarks of the luxury watch manufacturer.

“Defendant intentionally, maliciously, and willfully sold, offered for sale, distributed, promoted, and advertised watches bearing counterfeits of one or more of the Rolex Registered Trademarks, despite knowledge that such sales were illegal,” says the suit. “Defendant’s acts were calculated to confuse and to deceive the public, and were performed with full knowledge of Rolex’s rights.”

Rolex is seeking $2 million “for each mark counterfeited" along with other damages.

Rolex v Jonathan Samuel Cook

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Florida Man Arrested Selling Replica Watches on Craigslist

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A Cooper City, Florida man spent some time in jail after he was arrested for selling replica watches on Craigslist, according to a Broward Sheriff's Office representative.

Hymie Habib Chera, 24, was arrested Thursday for selling counterfeit (replica) Rolex timepieces to an agent hired by Rolex to investigate possible violations of trademark infringement (according to the Complaint Affidavit).  Each timepiece bore the Rolex trademark and logo.  Chera was asking $200 per replica Rolex watch he had listed on Craigslist.

Chera met the investigator around 10 a.m. Thursday in the parking lot at Flanagan's located at 2600 Davie Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale (according to the Affidavit).

Chera showed the man 8 timepieces on a display rack which consisted of 6 replica Rolex watches, a replica Hublot timepiece, and a counterfeit Audemars Piguet watch, which (if authentic), would amass a total retail value of approximately $218,300.

"It should be noted that the watches that he was selling were of good quality and it would be difficult for an average citizen to tell the difference between the counterfeit watches and a real one," Detective Scott Schaefer stated in the Affidavit. "The watches had all the distinguishing marks that make each respective watch unique to its corporation."

Following the Arrest, Chera confessed to authorities that he had advertised the replica timepieces on Craigslist. Chera, who is facing a Counterfeiting Charge, has posted Bond and will now traverse the expensive and stressful process of being involved in a Case in the Criminal Justice System.

We recommend that people avoid Possession, Buying, Selling, and Manufacturing replica watches.  You can and will face Criminal Charges from your State and the Federal Government as well being sued by the manufacturer.

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Virginia Man Busted With Replica Watches

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A Virginia man who drove through a red light close to the Holland Tunnel recently was arrested after Authorities found Counterfeit watches and other fake designer merchandise inside the vehicle he was operating according to Port Authority Police.  

William C. Manigo, 46, of Danville, Va., was initially charged with Trademark Counterfeiting and issued Traffic Summons following a 9 p.m. traffic stop at 14th Street and Marin Boulevard.  Port Authority Police spokesman Joe Pentangelo said Manigo ran a red light, and (when he was pulled over), an Officer noticed several designer pocketbooks, purses, and loose designer logos on the floor of Manigo's vehicle. 

The officer also noted two large black plastic bags on the floor of the vehicle, which contained a number of other counterfeit pocketbooks, purses, watches and sunglasses, Pentangelo said. 

The Police spokesman said Manigo told them: "I just picked them up from China Town and I'm just trying to make a living."

The counterfeit goods included items purported to be Michael Kors, Burberry and Louis Vuitton, Police said, adding that Manigo's pockets were also filled with designer logos. He was carrying $569 in cash on his person at the time of his Arrest for Trafficking in Counterfeit Goods.

Pentangelo said Court records show the suspect has a prior Criminal history in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Virginia for various Counterfeit Goods and Controlled Substance offenses.

Manigo was placed under Arrest and taken to Hudson County Jail in Kearny, while the goods were logged. Bail was set at $3,000, Pentangelo said.

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Replica Watch Bust in Singapore

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Many Criminal are selling replica watches.  Some, however, are attempting to sell replica watches (such as Rolex, Omega, TAG Heuer, Breitling, Omega, Vacheron Constantin, Franck Muller, Hublot, and others) as authentic watches and are scamming unsuspecting buyers including jewelers and pawn shops out of thousands of dollars per transaction.

Hey, do you want a replica watch?  Replica watches have become more sophisticated since shady criminals used to sell them in back alleys.  Now, they are so good that three men managed to trick 7 pawn shops into accepting them and made off with $104,000 in Singapore Currency.  The men (of course) were eventually caught.

Chen Zhiwei, 33, who was not employed, was imprisoned for two years in October while his cohort, Lam Chan Pieu, 31, was sentenced to 3 years in prison. Another accomplice, Fong Kheng Yue, 44, was Sentenced to 18 months in August.

This all began when Chen and Lam, who had been friends for ten years, decided to con pawn shops using replica Audemars Piguet timepieces. These watches bore the brand's trademark; were packaged in boxes bearing counterfeit trademarks; and came with forged certificates of authenticity.

 

CONSPIRACY TO DEFRAUD

The Court heard that in January, Lam told Chen that Lam was able to obtain fake Audemars Piguet watches that could be pawned for more than $10,000 each.
Lam also stated that Fong was previously assisting in this conspiracy to defraud.

Fong would pawn the watches at the pawn shops and act as the guarantor. After watching Fong for a while, Chen was ready to see if he could pull it off himself. Lam would often drive Chen to the various pawn shops and pick up the cash after each scam.

Chen was promised 10% of the profit... the same cut that Fong was offered... with the remainder going to Lam.  Between Jan 13 and 26, the men conned 7 pawn shops across Singapore of $104,000. The most cash they got for a counterfeit watch was $22,000.  On at least 2 occasions, these criminals used a fake identity card to conduct the guarantee of the transaction.  They also attempted to con a pawn shop in Temple Street of $18,000 on Feb 2.

Chen netted $9,600 in total and spent the money on gambling and personal expenses.  On Feb 3, an appraiser at one of the pawn shops made a Police Report and the 3 men were arrested within 2 days.  In October, Chen and Lam were in a District Court and were Sentenced to 2 and 3 years in Prison, respectively.

Heng Seng Pawn shop assistant Lee Yonggui told The New Paper that he and his colleagues were tricked by the con men because the watches looked authentic.

"We don't see many customers coming in with Audemars Piguet watches. We weren't as experienced in knowing how to check the watch. So we fell for it," he said in Mandarin.  They now take much greater care to scrutinize each watch, he said.  As an example, they will open up watches... with the customer's permission... to check the parts inside as well as get a second opinion from a watch shop, if necessary.  "But pawn shop assistants are usually under pressure to close a deal," he said.

"Customers don't wait around for you to check and inspect a watch. If you take too long, you lose a customer. So we have to try our best and rely on our experience. It's not easy," he said.

Telltale signs in replicas are usually in the minor details.  "Telling a real and fake watch apart is not easy," said a watch dealer contacted by The New Paper.  Mr Russell Tan of HJ Luxury said: "Some of these counterfeit watches are so high in quality that you cannot tell just by looking at the casing alone. Some of them are even made with good quality stainless steel."

 

IMPERFECTIONS

Mr Tan, who has been in the industry for 25 years, said he recently dealt with an Audemars Piguet watch that a customer had brought in.  "After disasssembling it and spending 45 minutes checking every part, I found there were minor imperfections on some parts so I had to use my instinct and I didn't buy it," he said.

Mr Alvin Lye, who runs Monster Time Gallery, also said he has to pay attention to the tiniest of details.  For example, if he were inspecting a Rolex GMT watch, he would check how the hands are stacked.

Mr Alfred Png, who runs Png Watch Dealer, told The Straits Times in July that while replicas have tell-tale signs that set them apart from genuine ones, these often boil down to tiny details - for instance, the lustre on a screw or slight difference in the dial colour.

Mr Tan said: "These counterfeit watch agents would buy a genuine one and bring back to their factories where they dissemble the watch, copy each piece and manufacture copies that can be 99 per cent realistic."

The safest is when customers produce a servicing receipt from the original watch makers.  "Like our customers, we also want assurance too," he said.

Replica watches such as Omega, Breitling, Rolex, TAG Heuer, Movado, Franck Muller, Audemars, Piguet, and Hublot are illegal. The best advice we can give is to always buy your watches from authorized retailers or reputable online timepiece sellers.

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