Watch Brokers target of federal investigation - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

FOX 5 I-Team investigates

Watch Brokers target of federal investigation

Posted: Updated:
ATLANTA -

A Buckhead business the I-Team first exposed is now the target of a federal investigation. Watch Brokers dealt in pricey time pieces until investigators shut them down. So, what's happening to the millions of dollars customers want back?

The case of Watch Brokers turned into a bigger situation than anyone could have imagined.  Investigators say millions of dollars have disappeared, thousands of watches are gone, and hundreds of hands may have been involved.

Sorting through high-end watches and time pieces has been an all-consuming job for investigators sifting through the mess that is the now-shuttered Watch Brokers consignment store.  

"This wasn't a couple of people.  It's hundreds and hundreds of people who got caught up in this.  That wasn't an accident. Clearly, these people knew what they were doing," said court appointed receiver Chris Tierney.

The I-Team found customers going back to 2011 who complained they brought in expensive watches to sell through Watch Brokers, and then couldn't get the money after they were sold.

"I'm not someone who just blindly hands over $10,000 worth of watches. They had a physical presence right in the middle of Buckhead, right on the corner, right next to what used to be a police substation.  And so I felt comfortable with the business at the time," said Watch Brokers customer Michael Brown.

But his time and patience were up when he complained, like many others did, to the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection that Watch Brokers sold two of his watches, refused to pay him, and then lost the third one.  

The Governor's Office of Consumer Protection legally held company president R.J. Bergh personally financially responsible for getting this business back on course.  He failed.  Watch Brokers continued to spiral and the state shut them down in September and put it into receivership.  Investigators were stunned to find out how much money had been squandered.

"Based on the number of watches that were sold on an average basis, you could easily be talking about a couple of million dollars," said Tierney.

But, it's been tricky finding the money and getting it back to angry customers.  Receiver Chris Tierney says they found 600 or so watches in the vaults, and will try to return them to customers for a fee.  

"They're going to have to pay $100 to get their watch back, but that pays for insurance, shipping, handling, packing, everything to get that watch out," said Tierney.

They have a third party dealer interested in buying some of them.  Keep an eye out for a letter in the mail. But, if your watch was sold and you didn't get paid, you're out of luck. The seized Watch Brokers bank accounts, he says, were empty. This is where federal investigators jump in: the US Postal Inspector is conducting a forensics investigation on company computers to see if they can find a money trail.  

"They had a business plan. They stole from people. And they didn't even have to use a gun to do it.   They stole my money while shaking my hand and smiling in my face," said Brown.

If you haven't received a letter and want to know the status of your case, call the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection at 404-651-8600.They will get you to the receiver who can find out the status of the case.

  • I-Team Story ArchiveMore>>

  • Developer: Kenerly never asked for bribe

    Developer: Kenerly never asked for bribe

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 10:18 PM EDT2014-08-21 02:18:28 GMT
    Prosecutors considered him their key witness, a longtime Gwinnett developer given immunity to spill what he knew about corruption inside county government. David Jenkins testified before a Gwinnett grand jury in 2010. He also met multiple times with prosecutors. Those interviews were videotaped. Four years later, prosecutors agreed to a no contest plea bargain with former commissioner Kevin Kenerly on one count of bribery. He will serve 10 years on probation and pay a $10,000 fine.
    Prosecutors considered him their key witness, a longtime Gwinnett developer given immunity to spill what he knew about corruption inside county government. David Jenkins testified before a Gwinnett grand jury in 2010. He also met multiple times with prosecutors. Those interviews were videotaped. Four years later, prosecutors agreed to a no contest plea bargain with former commissioner Kevin Kenerly on one count of bribery. He will serve 10 years on probation and pay a $10,000 fine.
  • Control your debit or credit card by remote control

    Control your debit or credit card by remote control

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 8:35 AM EDT2014-08-20 12:35:26 GMT
    Oh, that awful feeling when you think your credit or debit card is safely tucked into your wallet, but it's still shopping. Somebody, somewhere has got your card number and is using it. What if you could turn off that card?
    Oh, that awful feeling when you think your credit or debit card is safely tucked into your wallet, but it's still shopping. Somebody, somewhere has got your card number and is using it. What if you could turn off that card?
  • Reality TV Star Todd Chrisley faces tough questions

    Reality TV Star Todd Chrisley faces tough questions

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 10:58 PM EDT2014-08-20 02:58:47 GMT
    It's one of the hottest reality TV shows in the country and it stars an Atlanta millionaire.It's called "Chrisley Knows Best" and Todd Chrisley is the flamboyant lead.But Senior I-team reporter Dale Russell has been digging through court records and says "reality" means something different to people who have done business with Chrisley.
    It's one of the hottest reality TV shows in the country and it stars an Atlanta millionaire.It's called "Chrisley Knows Best" and Todd Chrisley is the flamboyant lead.But Senior I-team reporter Dale Russell has been digging through court records and says "reality" means something different to people who have done business with Chrisley.
  • Contact the FOX 5 I-Team

    * denotes required fields

    We're sorry, but only one entry is allowed per person.
    Thank you for your continued interest.

    Thanks for contacting FOX 5.  To reach our newsroom by phone, please call (404) 898-0100.

  • Good Day ArchiveMore>>

  • Back to School Jamboree with Hosea Feed The Hungry

    Back to School Jamboree with Hosea Feed The Hungry

    Hosea Feed the Hungry will host their annual Back to School Jamboree on Sunday, July 13, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at Turner Field. Children will receive a backpack filled with school supplies.

    Hosea Feed the Hungry will host their annual Back to School Jamboree on Sunday, July 13, 2014 from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. at Turner Field. Children will receive a backpack filled with school supplies.

  • SKYFOX Traffic

    Tips for navigating around Georgia Dome traffic

    Tips for navigating around Georgia Dome traffic

    Thursday, August 21 2014 9:16 AM EDT2014-08-21 13:16:27 GMT
    For the next three years, if you plan to be anywhere near the Georgia Dome, expect delays and plan ahead. That's the word from officials as we head into fall, the Dome's busiest time of the year.
    For the next three years, if you plan to be anywhere near the Georgia Dome, expect delays and plan ahead. That's the word from officials as we head into fall, the Dome's busiest time of the year.
  • Good Day Atlanta Extra

    Paula Deen: 'I'm happier, more solid, I'm smarter'

    Paula Deen: 'I'm happier, more solid, I'm smarter'

    Wednesday, August 20 2014 11:14 AM EDT2014-08-20 15:14:12 GMT
    Celebrity chef Paula Deen says she is 'happier and smarter' after a controversial year in the spotlight. Deen joined Good Day's Paul Milliken to candidly discuss the lessons she's learned, and her hopes for the future.
    Celebrity chef Paula Deen says she is 'happier and smarter' after a controversial year in the spotlight. Deen joined Good Day's Paul Milliken to candidly discuss the lessons she's learned, and her hopes for the future.
Powered by WorldNow

WTXF-TV
330 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106-2796

Phone: (215) 925-2929
Fax: (215) 982-5494

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices