It all started with a couple buying off some cheap stuffs and reselling them on Yahoo (and other auction sites). Pretty simple economics, don’t you think so? Buy lots of goods at a good price and then reselling them at a higher price that people will pay for. Well, this proved to be quite a downfall for this couple. Apparently, the "goods" that the couple were selling online were counterfeit batteries of Nokia brand, the origin of which is unknown to the couple. All the couple knew was just to order the goods and reselling them.

No doubt the goods seemed to cheap to be real, but these could jolly well be refurbished batteries; just like how any other person look for cheaper refurbished stuffs as replacement for the more expensive first hand ones. So… the moral of the story? To just keep cheap stuffs for yourself. The worst that can happen is a… spoilt phone, in this case.

THE ordinary working-class couple knew at the back of their minds that there was something suspect about the Nokia batteries and other mobile phone accessories that they were reselling online.

But with a profit margin just too handsome to be ignored, it was easy to put their doubts aside. The party ended when their four-room HDB flat in Sembawang was raided for violating Nokia’s trademark last December.

The batteries they had been selling, which bear Nokia logos, were actually counterfeits.

The phone company, which seized 58 fake batteries and 11 other accessories, settled out of court with the couple last Wednesday. The details of the settlement were confidential. Nokia declined to say how it had caught the couple.

Mr Loh, 42, a Malaysian-born Singapore permanent resident, said he had been buying and selling items such as toys via sites like Yahoo Auctions and eBay for several months. By chance, he came across a Malaysian supplier of cheap ‘Nokia’ batteries and other accessories on Malaysian auction site Lelong (Malay for sale).

As these products were easy to transport to Singapore and offered a good profit margin, he decided to sell them instead, he said.

The Lohs’ household income is ‘under $5,000’, said Mrs Loh, a 42-year-old Singaporean who works in the medical industry.

The couple began buying the batteries for ‘about $6 each’ from the supplier.

Mr Loh would make payment via online banking to the supplier’s Maybank Internet banking account, and the supplier – whom he claimed he never met – would then courier the batteries to his mother’s Johor Baru home.

The couple would pick up the supplies on their monthly visits to Mr Loh’s mother, and then sell the items online via Yahoo’s auction site for $9 to $14 apiece – a significant discount when compared with real Nokia batteries, which can cost about $50.

At those prices, it worked up to an easy profit margin of between 50 and 133 per cent for the Lohs.

Mr Loh admitted that he suspected something was wrong with the goods, and had even gone as far as asking his supplier via e-mail if they were counterfeits. The supplier, he said, refused to give a straight answer and would say only that the batteries were ‘compatible’. He said he could not recall how many batteries he had sold before Nokia came knocking on his door.

‘I didn’t know it was so serious…It was just for some extra money,’ he said.

CHUA HIAN HOU

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 14th April 2008



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