Lawsuits seeking more than $20 million were filed Wednesday against two jewelry stores accused of fraudulently selling used Rolex watches as brand new to wealthy friends of a Beverly Hills jeweler who conducted a home-grown "sting" operation.
The pair of civil complaints allege that two jewelry stores, Bailey, Banks and Biddle in Costa Mesa and Merksamer Jewelers in Lakewood, engaged in unfair and deceptive business practices by telling buyers the expensive watches had never been worn before, said Pasadena attorney Richard Harding, who filed the complaints in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Beverly Hills jeweler Carl Marcus said he organized a group of wealthy friends to purchase the watches, wear them for several weeks and return them to the jewelry stores.
Another friend, wearing a tape recorder, would return to the store and purchase the same watch after allegedly receiving assurances from salespeople that the timepiece was factory new.
"We went in on a sting operation. We didn't get duped. But everyone else that buys a watch there runs a chance of getting duped," Marcus said.
Employees of Bailey, Banks and Biddle referred comment to a spokesperson in Texas, who did not return phone calls. A spokesman for Merksamer Jewelers denied the allegations.