In recent news, the founder of ‘Gentlemen Timepieces’, a luxury watch consignment store located in Beverly Hills, has been charged with defrauding customers in a Ponzi-type scheme. Anthony Farrer, also known as “The Timepiece Gentleman,” was arrested by FBI agents on charges of wire fraud and now faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. According to the allegations, Farrer would collect luxury watches from individuals and promise to sell them on consignment, keeping the proceeds for himself instead of remitting funds back to the customers. Victims have reported losses totaling approximately $3 million, and law enforcement is currently identifying additional victims. The investigation is ongoing, and a detention hearing is scheduled for Thursday.
Founder of Gentlemen Timepieces
The founder of Gentlemen Timepieces, Anthony Farrer, established the company in Texas in 2017. The business operated as a luxury watch consignment store, connecting purchasers and sellers of high-end watches. In 2022, Farrer expanded the operations by opening a location in Beverly Hills, California.
Location and Operation Dates
Gentlemen Timepieces had a prominent presence in Beverly Hills, attracting customers with its selection of luxury watches. The store began its operations in 2022 and gained a reputation for offering exclusive timepieces to discerning customers.
Connection between Purchasers and Sellers
The primary role of Gentlemen Timepieces was to facilitate the consignment of luxury watches. Sellers would bring their high-end watches to the store, where Farrer would collect them and have the sellers sign a consignment agreement. This agreement stipulated that Farrer would receive a commission, typically 5%, from the sale of the watch to a purchaser.
Charges and Arrest
Arrest by FBI Agents
Anthony Farrer was arrested by FBI agents on charges related to defrauding customers of his luxury watch consignment business. The arrest took place without incident, and Farrer was apprehended at a storage facility in Venice, California.
Federal Criminal Complaint Filed
A federal criminal complaint was filed against Farrer on Monday, charging him with wire fraud. Wire fraud is a felony offense that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
Charge of Wire Fraud
Farrer’s wire fraud charge stems from his alleged fraudulent activities in defrauding victims of their funds through false promises related to the sale of luxury watches.
If convicted of wire fraud, Farrer could face a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. The severity of the potential sentence reflects the serious nature of the alleged fraudulent scheme.
Details of the Scheme
Fraudulent Promises to Customers
According to the federal criminal complaint, Farrer defrauded victims by making promises to sell their luxury watches on consignment. However, instead of remitting the funds back to the customers after deducting his commission, Farrer allegedly kept the proceeds for himself, depriving the victims of their rightful payment.
Misuse of Funds
Farrer’s alleged misuse of funds involved diverting the proceeds from the sale of consigned watches to his own personal use. This includes financing a luxury lifestyle that involved living in a high-end rental property, driving a Lamborghini and Ducati motorcycles, and frequently traveling to and engaging in gambling activities in Las Vegas.
Farrer’s extravagant lifestyle, as highlighted in the criminal complaint, further adds to the severity of the allegations against him. The contrast between Farrer’s apparent lavish spending and the financial losses suffered by his victims is striking.
One of the aspects of Farrer’s alleged fraudulent scheme that stands out is his involvement in gambling activities. The criminal complaint suggests that Farrer used the proceeds from defrauding victims to fund his gambling habits.
The criminal complaint details one of Farrer’s techniques, which involved watch substitution. Instead of fulfilling his obligation to purchase the agreed-upon luxury watches, Farrer would send his victims a different watch, often one belonging to another victim who had authorized Farrer to sell it on consignment.
The complaint also characterizes Farrer’s operation as similar to a Ponzi scheme. By engaging in smaller successful transactions before moving on to larger ones, Farrer was able to build trust with his victims and create a sense of security. This modus operandi allowed him to continue defrauding individuals for an extended period without arousing suspicion.
Building Trust through Successful Transactions
Farrer’s alleged scheme relied on establishing an initial reputation for successful consignment transactions. By fulfilling his obligations in minor transactions, he gained the trust of his victims, thus making it easier to perpetrate larger-scale fraudulent activities.
Failure to Remit Funds or Return Watches
Several victims reported that Farrer failed to remit funds for the luxury watches they had consigned or failed to return the watches to them as agreed upon. This failure to fulfill his obligations further substantiates the allegations against Farrer.
Estimated Victim Losses
Law enforcement authorities estimate that the losses incurred by victims of Farrer’s fraudulent scheme currently amount to approximately $3 million. This figure underscores the significant financial impact experienced by those conned by Gentlemen Timepieces.
Identification of Additional Victims
The investigation into the case is still ongoing, with law enforcement actively working to identify additional victims who may have fallen prey to Farrer’s fraudulent activities. The identification of these individuals is crucial to ensuring that justice is served for all affected parties.
Abandonment and Social Media Activity
Abandonment of Beverly Hills Store
In August 2023, Farrer apparently abandoned the Gentlemen Timepieces store located in Beverly Hills. This sudden abandonment of the physical retail space raises concerns about the intentions and actions of the store’s founder.
Social Media Posts about Travel
Following the store’s abandonment, Farrer took to social media to post about his various travels throughout the United States. These posts, showcasing his seemingly carefree lifestyle, are in stark contrast to the alleged fraudulent activities and the financial losses suffered by his victims.
Continued Watch Advertisements
Despite the criminal charges and the abandonment of the physical store, Farrer continued to advertise luxury watches for sale on his social media platforms as recently as October 2023. This ongoing promotion raises concerns about the potential for further victims to be ensnared in Farrer’s fraudulent scheme.
Initial Appearance in Court
Anthony Farrer made his initial appearance in United States District Court following his arrest. This appearance marked the start of the formal legal proceedings against him.
Arraignment and Detention Hearing Dates
An arraignment for Farrer has been scheduled for December 14. Additionally, a detention hearing has been set for Thursday to determine if he should be detained pending trial.
Presumption of Innocence
It is crucial to remember that, at this stage of the criminal proceedings, Anthony Farrer is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. The legal process will determine his guilt or innocence.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) played a central role in arresting Anthony Farrer and investigating the allegations against him. As a federal law enforcement agency, the FBI focuses on enforcing federal laws and ensuring the integrity of vital financial systems.
IRS Criminal Investigation
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation division is a key investigative agency involved in the case against Farrer. The division’s responsibilities include combating financial crimes and pursuing those who engage in illegal financial activities.
Beverly Hills Police Department
The Beverly Hills Police Department has also been actively involved in the investigation into Farrer’s fraudulent activities. Local law enforcement agencies often collaborate with federal agencies to address financial crimes that impact their communities.
Prosecution and Contact Information
Prosecutor and Prosecuting Section
Assistant United States Attorney Joshua O. Mausner from the Violent and Organized Crime Section is prosecuting the case against Anthony Farrer. The specialized nature of this section underscores the seriousness of the alleged criminal activities.
Contact Information for Public Inquiries
For public inquiries related to the case, the contact information for the Public Information Officer, Ciaran McEvoy, is available. Public inquiries play an essential role in providing information and updates to concerned individuals or potential witnesses.
Similar Cases of Financial Fraud
Instances of financial fraud are unfortunately not uncommon. Similar cases involving fraudulent schemes targeting victims’ finances have been reported in the past, highlighting the importance of vigilance and awareness in safeguarding personal and financial interests.
Sentences Imposed on Other Fraudsters
In cases of financial fraud, the legal system seeks to ensure accountability and justice. Sentences imposed on previous individuals convicted of financial fraud may offer insight into what could potentially be the outcome for Anthony Farrer, should he be found guilty of the charges against him. Learning from past cases can help inform public discourse and regulatory measures to prevent future fraud and protect potential victims.