Some of the victims were first-time buyers, who were misled by Tradenation’s legitimacy due to its physical store and its registration with the Ministry of Law, said Marcus.
Tradenation was registered as a precious stones and metals dealer. Registered dealers are regulated only for anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism purposes, the ministry said previously.
Its registration has since been suspended.
First-time buyer Justine (not her real name) ordered a Rolex Submariner worth close to S$20,000 on behalf of a friend. She told CNA that purchasing the watch from an authorised dealer or a Rolex shop would have meant a wait of several years.
“We actually put our name on the (authorised dealer’s waitlist), just that we need to wait for a very long time. If you want to get the watch faster, this is the only way.”
Tradenation also was selling the watch for about 10 per cent cheaper than its retail price.
“(I wanted to) get the first one and see if they can deliver … If it was okay, we actually planned to buy some more,” said Justine.
But after she made her purchase in May, the excuses from the couple began.
First, they told her that the watch would take about two weeks to be delivered. Then they said the shipment was delayed.
“They did mention that if I wanted a refund, I can request a refund. I did not at that time because I’ve already waited this long and then they promised that the shipment will arrive at the end of the month,” Justine said.
At the end of May, the couple said that the watch had arrived in Singapore but was stuck in customs due to a “tax clearance issue”. It would only be delivered to her towards the end of June.
Justine’s subsequent messages to them from mid-June went unanswered. She eventually made a police report in July.
“After the incident, I explained to my friend and then we split the cost. (He was) devastated, pissed off, but cannot do anything.”
The money lost is a “significant amount” of her savings, Justine said. “I’m still hoping that we can get some back, hopefully even a small portion of the amount I would be okay – at least we have something back.”