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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


JOHN F. WOOD


Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html


SEPTEMBER 4, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


IOWA MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO MAIL FRAUD,

TRADEMARK COUNTERFEIT


SOLD FAKE ROLEX WATCHES ONLINE AT EBAY


            KANSAS CITY, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Council Bluffs, Iowa, man pleaded guilty in federal court today to selling fake Rolex watches on the online auction site eBay.


            Roy M. Richards, 45, of Council Bluffs, formerly of Kansas City, Mo., pleaded guilty before U.S. Chief District Judge Fernando J. Gaitan this morning to the charges contained in a Sept. 11, 2007, federal indictment.


            Richards admitted that he defrauded the purchasers of purported Rolex watches that he was selling on eBay. Richards sold the watches for less than their retail value and demanded that purchasers provide payment before receiving the watches. After he received payment, Richards sent the purchaser a counterfeit Rolex watch with little or no value, and in some cases did not send anything.


            Richards offered various makes and models of Rolex watches for sale on eBay in 2005. Richards claimed that he had purchased the contents of a storage locker that belonged to a jeweler who either died or defaulted on his lease agreement, and that inside the locker was a crate containing several Rolex watches. He also claimed that the watches had been authenticated by three separate jewelers. The items offered by Richards were typically sold for less than half of the retail cost, which could be tens of thousands of dollars.


            Richards admitted to defrauding victims in Tuscon, Ariz., Gilbert, Ariz., Honolulu, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and other locations across the United States. Most of those victims lost several thousand dollars apiece, with total losses of approximately $35,000.


            Under federal statutes, Richards is subject to a sentence of up to 70 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $1 million. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.


            This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Curt Bohling. It was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html