Anthony Farrer’s lifestyle was as flashy as the luxury wristwatches he sold in Beverly Hills.
His watch consignment business, The Timepiece Gentleman, had a storefront on the city’s fabled Rodeo Drive. His red Lamborghini and his Ducati motorcycles sat outside his lavish rental in Santa Monica. He made frequent gambling trips to Las Vegas, where he spent tens of thousands of dollars.
Farrer, 35, collected Patek Philippes, Rolexes and other pricey timepieces and sold them to collectors. The typical agreement with his clients netted him a 5% commission on every sale, according to a federal criminal complaint obtained by CNN.
Business was thriving, or so his clients thought. Farrer displayed watches worth up to $430,000 on social media, where his 300,000 followers on Instagram and YouTube marveled at his haul.
But it all came crashing down when FBI agents arrested him last week for allegedly scamming customers out of $3 million by selling their fancy watches and pocketing the proceeds. He’s facing charges of wire fraud in what federal documents describe as a “luxury watch Ponzi-type scheme” that occurred between late last year and this summer.
“Multiple victims contacted law enforcement to report that they wired funds to Farrer for the purchase of a watch, or mailed him a watch to consign for sale, but were never paid for the watch or never received their watch back,” the US Attorney’s Office of the Central District of California said in a statement. “To date, law enforcement estimates that victim losses currently total approximately $3 million.”
Farrer’s attorney, Erica Choi, did not respond to CNN’s requests for comment.
According to federal court documents, Farrer’s life started unraveling months before his arrest. His upscale lifestyle allegedly masked his growing money problems.
His watch business started in Dallas and moved to LA
In court documents, federal agents detailed Farrer’s downfall from luxury watch seller to alleged scammer.
Farrer started his watch business in Dallas in 2017 and opened a new location in Los Angeles in 2022 to connect buyers and sellers of high-end timepieces, a federal statement said.
Just months after his move to California, around November of 2022, the criminal complaint states he began defrauding customers by promising to sell their luxury watches for a commission. Then, instead of giving them the money after the sales, he’d keep it for himself.
“He would typically collect a watch from an individual and have them sign a consignment agreement that stipulated he would collect a commission from the sale, typically 5%,” the complaint said.
From Anthony Farrer
Anthony Farrer shared images of watches for sale on his Instagram and other social media platforms.
As his luxury watch business appeared to grow, customers began to accuse him of vanishing with their watches or money, and shared complaints on Reddit and YouTube.
This August, law enforcement visited Farrer’s store in Beverly Hills and discovered it was no longer in operation. Its doorbell camera was ripped off, and building security told investigators no employees had shown up for work in a week.
“Around this same time, Farrer had been posting on social media, and based on those posts, he appears to have been traveling to various locations including South Carolina, Colorado, Texas and Florida,” federal documents said.
Investigators said Farrer pocketed customers’ money from the watch sales and used it to maintain his lavish lifestyle. Some buyers would wire him funds to secure specific luxury watches and never received the watch — or got their money back, the complaint said. At times, court documents said, Farrer would send customers pieces that were different from what they’d requested.
One customer told investigators that Farrer offered to repay a money debt using a Rolex watch. Court documents state the Rolex actually belonged to another customer who’d given it to Farrer to sell on consignment.
Investigators said they talked to more than 20 clients who’d either sent Farrer money to buy a watch or mailed him a watch for sale. One alleged victim said he consigned 75 watches to Farrer worth about $3.2 million. Farrer later paid the customer a fraction of the total price — about $385,000 — and used some of the watches as collateral for a $300,000 loan, court documents said.
He posted a video confessing to a ‘fake’ lifestyle and millions in debt
Farrer shared his rise with his hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram and YouTube.
He showcased watches in his swanky Beverly Hills showroom, shared images on his website and posted Instagram photos of his wrists lined up with Rolexes, Swiss luxury watches and other pieces.
In reality-show type videos, he shared glimpses of his daily life, including high-dollar phone deals with his customers and mundane things like his daily gym routine and dinner in fancy restaurants.
He also revealed his checkered past. He talked about time spent in prison and painted a picture of a flawed ex-felon who’d put the past behind him and risen to the top of his profession. Court records obtained by CNN show Farrer was sentenced to prison in 2015 for DWI and in 2008 for evading arrest in Texas.
When accusations of Farrer’s duplicity grew, he came clean on social media about some of his dealings. In August, he posted a video of himself in a kitchen wearing a tank top and a baseball hat. In the clip he gave a long-winded confession of his business failings, saying said he’d grown accustomed to the wealth and lifestyle he attained, had a gambling problem and had fallen into debt.
He claimed he owed customers about $5 million, saying that more than half of the debt was to two clients alone.
“I’ve battled with demons and I’ve let stuff get the best of me and I’ve made a lot of bad decisions. I made a lot of dumb mistakes,” he said in the video.
“Just living this fake lifestyle, this, ‘Look at me. I’m smart, I’m successful,’ you know, keeping up appearances. It’s eating me alive. … I got a little taste of success and never wanted to forget that feeling.”
The one-time luxury watch seller is currently being held without bail at a federal jail in Los Angeles, awaiting his arraignment in December, Ciaran McEvoy, a spokesperson for the US Attorney’s Office, told CNN.
If he’s found guilty of wire fraud, Farrer faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. Investigators are interviewing additional clients to determine the magnitude of the alleged scheme.