WatchBrokers seizure reveals many unsecured watches - New York News

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WatchBrokers seizure reveals many unsecured watches

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ATLANTA -

WatchBrokers was a high-end timepiece consignment shop that has been seized by the courts. If you've had dealings with WatchBrokers, that means the courts might have your missing watch.

The take-over, urged along with the state's consumer protection group, is the first ever of its kind. Until Friday, the store held hundreds of expensive watches.  Many of the expensive watches were not secured. An investigator says security was so sloppy it would have taken maybe 10 minutes to get inside and loot the place.

"And once I got in here, two of the safes were open," said court appointed receiver Chris Tierney.

Chris Tierney's team, under orders from a Fulton County judge, seized custody of WatchBrokers. It wasn't hard to do.  Once inside the glass door of the high end consignment shop, the keys lay next to the security gate and behind the doors of unlocked safes were many name brand watches -- Breitlings, Omegas, Raymond Weil, Cartier, and Tag Hauer to name a few.

The number of expensive watches could number in the hundreds.

"We're going to insure this for $2 million, just because I'm going to be conservative because I just don't know what I have," said Tierney.

Lying around were letters from lawyers, furious customers and the Department of Revenue. But also there were clues -- already-labeled FedEx parcels that might lead investigators to some of the watches' rightful owners.  

"I'm hoping that once we have access to the records, we can match up everything in the safe with some inventory records on the system and figure out who actually belongs to what," said Tierney.

The time piece dealer's building sits on coveted real estate.  Now it's dirty with cobwebs, roaches and rodent traps.

A year ago, locked cabinets held some of the finest watches anywhere. For more than a year the I-Team heard from angry customers who say WatchBrokers sold their watches for them but refused to give them their money.   

In January, the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection got an unprecedented agreement with the company president that he would be held financially responsible if they didn't start returning money.  

"Number one, we can bankrupt it, run and hide and put our tails between our legs. Or, we can go to the governor's office and say it's a mess," said WatchBroker's president R.J. Bergh in January.

Now, he's hard to track down. So the state, in another first, took drastic measure to close down a business.

"The kind of parasitic conduct which we have uncovered simply has no place in the marketplace in Georgia," said John Sours of the Governor's Office of Consumer Protection.

If you go to the company's web site, it has been taken over by the court. On the site is contact information if you are trying to locate your watch or to get your money.

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