Blogshops in trouble after contact lenses seized

PHOTO: Blogshops in trouble after contact lenses seized

SINGAPORE - If you are thinking of buying contact lenses from blogshops or making a quick buck selling them online, think again.

You may end up losing your money, as it is illegal to import contact lenses without a license and such lenses will be confiscated by the authorities if discovered.

The Straits Times (ST) reported that at least three teenage blogshop owners have had their contact lenses seized by Custom officers and are now facing irate customers demanding their money back.

According to the ST report, at least 20 suppliers were affected after investigations were carried out by the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) and the Ministry of Health (MOH).

Since August last year, more than 1,600 pairs of contact lenses have been seized from four unlicensed importers.

One of the distributors, 17-year-old Jenny, told ST that she set up an online shop selling iris-enlarging contact lenses from South Korea and participated in a mass order with 10 other blogshops in August.

Each ordered around 50 pairs of lenses. All the lenses were confiscated by the authorities and now Jenny is unable to get back her money back to refund her customers, who paid her in advance.

They are now threatening to make a police report against her.

She admitted that she knew what she was doing was illegal, but went ahead because of the draw of making easy money.

Previously, she had placed three similar orders successfully, earning about $300 each time. She bought the lenses for $5 per pair, and sold them for $15.

Although those involved have yet to be prosecuted, blogshop owners found guilty of illegally importing contact lenses can be fined up to $50,000 and jailed for two years.

For the buyers of such lenses, Ms Irish Ng, who runs online scam alert site, told ST that as buying lenses online is illegal in the first place, it is hard for customers to get their money back if they do not get what they paid for.

In Singapore, an eye examination by a registered optometrist or optician is required before a user can be fitted with contact lenses. There have been documented cases of the usage of illegally obtained contact lenses leading to eye complications and even blindness.

HSA said that it has been stepping up its checks following a recent spate of cases involving counterfeit contact lenses.