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HomeE CommerceI'VRE perfume subscription closes, users left in the dark amidst founder's criminal allegations

I'VRE perfume subscription closes, users left in the dark amidst founder's criminal allegations

[Editor’s Note: The article has been updated to reflect Christian Kwok’s latest statement]

When I first wrote about perfume subscription business I’VRE, I did not expect the business to go down in less than two years. After all, perfume subscriptions were all the hype at that time, and the business claimed to have sold out its stock within just three weeks of opening.

In all honesty, I would’ve opted for I’VRE’s services due to their affordability if I hadn’t received two full-sized fragrances as gifts earlier this year — but lucky me, I guess.

While the business received rave comments when it first started out, everything started to go downhill the past couple of months when users started to realise that they hadn’t received their orders. Some users were told that their perfumes were “out of stock”, while some never received responses at all.

If I were in the same predicament, I’d try to cancel my subscription as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, though, many users are at their wits end as the only way to cancel a subscription was to contact the business — to which the majority are greeted with radio silence.

Unable to cancel their subscriptions, I’VRE’s customers were continuously billed, with some even reporting that they’ve had up to 11 unauthorised charges made to their cards.

According to I’VRE’s website, though, the business is apparently in the process of being “acquired” — yet, when I looked into the company’s latest ACRA records today (Dec 15), the company’s working officers still remain the same since its incorporation.

I’VRE’s founder legally changed his name following his criminal indictments

In 2021, I’VRE was founded by 22-year-old Christian Kwok– or rather, Darren Kwok — according to sources close to the matter. Kwok had legally changed his name following his past records of criminal indictments, where he cheated an insurance agent and stole from a family member, among other crimes.

Kwok’s business partner (and co-founder of I’VRE) is influencer Elaine Yuan. The duo met through mutual friends during a party a couple of years back.

In 2020, Kwok lied about paying for insurance plans to get an insurance agent to lend him S$3,600. The insurance plans required a one-time payment of S$7,200.

Although he told the insurance agent that he had the money to pay for the insurance plan, he asked to pay in instalments as he required money for his day-to-day expenses. Payments by instalments were not possible, hence, the insurance agent lent him S$3,600 to pay the lump sum first, and he would repay her S$300 every month.

Kwok only had S$500 in his bank account at the time, yet, he made two transfers from the account totaling S$7,200 via Singapore Post’s SAM electronic payment system as he knew that despite the unsuccessful transaction, SAM’s payment system would show a page indicating the successful transfer of funds to AXA insurance.

Kwok sent screenshots of this payments page to the insurance agent, however, the agent lodged a police report once she found out that the payments did not go through.

He stole S$31,000 from his grandfather and was expelled from school

A year earlier in 2019, Kwok stole five cheques from his grandfather’s bedroom drawer in their home along Hong San Walk in Chua Chu Kang to pay for his personal expenses and to repay one of his friends.

He forged his grandfather’s signature after stealing these cheques to cash them into his bank account for a total sum of S$31,000.

Kwok also stole other cheques that were pre-signed by his grandfather and cashed them, but court documents do not indicate how much were stolen from these cheques.

His crimes were uncovered when his grandfather filed a police report after discovering unauthorised withdrawals from his bank accounts.

Prior to this, Kwok was allegedly expelled from Hwa Chong Institution in 2017 after he was caught stealing his classmate’s money and misusing their credit cards. He was charged with a total of 28 counts of theft, fraud, and unauthorized use of credit cards, and sentenced to two years of probation.

The key reason for the business’ closure was its lack of manpower

In response to Vulcan Post’s inquiries, Kwok has clarified that the business’ closure was “due to a variety of circumstances”, however, a key reason that led to its downfall was the lack of manpower.

Furthermore, the company suffered from cash flow issues as its venture capital, Seed Ventures, had decided to renege on its Shares Purchase Agreement (SPA). As a result, Kwok and Yuan were “left with no choice but to find buyers to purchase [I’VRE’s] active subscribers as well as takeover some of its distribution channels”.

Regarding the unauthorised transactions, Kwok clarifies that as the business’ system relies on Shopify and Seal, its customers ended up being overcharged due to “the way the business’ backend system was built”.

Kwok says that the business would fulfil all orders and refunds accordingly and in due time.

Featured Image Credit: I’VRE

Also Read: Swap scents: This subscription startup lets you try 3 luxury perfumes from onlyS$16.95/month

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