SINGAPORE: A 44-year-old man was on Tuesday (Aug 11) sentenced to 18 months in jail for cheating seven pawn shops of S$98,000 in less than a month.
Fong Kheng Yue, who is unemployed, pawned eight counterfeit luxury watches for between S$10,000 and S$15,000 each.
An accomplice identified as "Jimmy" supplied the counterfeit Audemars Piguet watches with fraudulent certificates of authenticity. "Jimmy" also acted as guarantor. Checks with a local retailer revealed that an authentic Audemars Piguet watch costs at least S$22,000.
Occasionally, another accomplice identified as "Zhiwei" would stand in as guarantor. "Jimmy" would also provide the accused with the identity cards of other individuals for Fong to use when pledging the watches.
Fong would retain 10 per cent of the proceeds, with the remainder going to "Jimmy". According to court documents, Fong received a total of about S$10,000 for his involvement, and has since used the money on personal expenses and gambling.
Fong was charged with eight counts of cheating, but the court proceeded with three of them. The other five charges were taken into consideration in sentencing.
In court on Tuesday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Victoria Ting called Fong a “serial cheat”, highlighting that he had “no qualms about using the identity card details of unknown third parties to guarantee transactions which he knew to be fraudulent”. DPP Ting also noted that the large amount of money cheated over a short period of time was an aggravating factor.
Fong’s offences impact the perceived integrity of pawn shops, which cater to those in need of “short-term financial relief”, DPP Ting said. Fong’s acts also affect the integrity of The Hour Glass Limited, a reputable local retailer of authentic Audemars Piguet watches, DPP Ting added.
In mitigation, Fong’s lawyer told the court that his client suffers from depression and anxiety disorder, and had been receiving treatment at Singapore General Hospital at the time of his offences. Fong’s mental state also prevented him from getting a job, said his lawyer, who appealed to District Judge Salina Ishak for a sentence “at the lower end of the scale” as this is his client’s “first brush with the law”.
In sentencing Fong, DJ Ishak said this was not a simple case of cheating, as Fong is believed to be part of a syndicate and played “an active and integral role” in the conspiracy, which netted him a profit of S$10,000. No restitution has been made.
"Jimmy" and "Zhiwei" have also been charged.
For each count of cheating, Fong could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.