Around 200 people who entrusted a young couple with millions of dollars to buy luxury branded watches and bags are now left in the lurch, after the couple became uncontactable last month.
One customer told Shin Min Daily News that he asked the couple to purchase six Rolex and Patek Philippe watches at a combined price of $700,000, but has yet to receive the goods.
The customer, identified as a man named Huang, told the Chinese daily that he trusted the couple as he had ordered a $26,000 Rolex from them last year and received the watch a month later. He had also verified that the Rolex was authentic.
Said Huang, 37, who contacted the couple through their Instagram account: “The price they offered is about 10 per cent lower than the market price, so it’s very worth it.”
However, after months of waiting with no watches in sight, Huang asked the couple for an explanation, whereupon he was added to a Telegram group.
“I discovered that all the customers in the group have also not received their goods,” said Huang. A week later on July 1, he lodged a police report.
Another customer surnamed Zhang told Shin Min that she helped a friend to buy a Rolex for close to $20,000 in May.
“The couple told me that they travel to Switzerland to buy the products so it’s cheaper,” said Zhang, who works in marketing. She added that they had told her the goods would be delivered after two weeks. But after weeks of fruitless waiting, Zhang lodged a police report on July 2.
According to 29-year-old Zhang, at least two other customers in similar predicaments have shared with her their woes. One recent university graduate reportedly transferred more than $40,000 to the couple to purchase branded bags, hoping to flip the bags for a profit and use the money to pay her tuition loan. She, too, has yet to receive the bags.
Another customer told Shin Min that he found the couple through Carousell and paid them $78,000 in June for the purchase of three Rolex watches.
The self-employed 50-year-old said he waited for two weeks to no avail and his requests for a refund were also unsuccessful. He eventually made a police report on July 1 after receiving no replies from the couple.
All three customers told the Chinese evening daily that there are about 200 people in the Telegram group, with the estimated value of goods owed to be at least $32 million.
Delays due to Ukraine conflict and customs tax issues
According to Huang, the couple told him when confronted that the delays were due to the Ukraine conflict as well as tax issues which would require a wait of up to three months to be resolved.
To Zhang, the couple said the goods had already arrived in Singapore, but that the customs tax was still being processed.
Huang added the couple told the group that the goods will be immediately dispatched to customers once they receive them.
“When some people in the group said they wanted to make a police report, they then said they would only deliver the goods to those who didn’t make a police report.”
When reporters from Shin Min visited a shop in Tanjong Pagar registered under the man’s name, they found the entrance shuttered.
Nearby tenants told reporters that the shop has been closed for four or five days.
“Over the past few days about 10 people came to ask about the owners’ whereabouts. I’m also curious what happened,” said one tenant.
Neighbours of the couple at their Holland Road address told Shin Min that they have not seen any signs of the pair for the past week.
They shared that the young couple moved into the landed property about a year ago. The couple owned a sports car and would occasionally hold parties at home but the pair rarely interacted with the neighbours, said residents who were interviewed.
Residents told the Chinese evening daily that they observed several people coming to the house to look for the couple about two months back. The most recent incident was last week, where four or five men were heard knocking on the door and shouting to check if anyone was home.
Police confirmed to AsiaOne that a report was lodged and that investigations are ongoing.