Bogus broker conned victims over watches, car parts

Claiming to be a broker for car parts and expensive watches and an expert in the import of vehicles, a man conned his victims into paying deposits to buy a used Porsche car and Rolex watches that he never had.

Teo Swee Kiang, 42, was sentenced to three years' jail on five charges of cheating yesterday. Four other charges of cheating and one of criminal breach of trust were taken into consideration for sentencing. No restitution has been made for the total amount of $25,090 involved.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Alexandria Shamini Joseph said Mr Lim Li, who was introduced to Teo through a mutual friend on Dec 13, 2015, agreed to buy two Rolex GMT-Master II watches at $9,500 each. Teo had lied that he could get the watches from a certain seller.

Mr Lim handed a $3,000 deposit to Teo on Dec 30, 2015. He gave a cash cheque of $2,800 to Teo in February last year. Between Feb 12 and March 21 last year, Mr Lim checked repeatedly about the watches with Teo, who made excuses and stopped replying eventually. Teo used the money to pay his debts to loan sharks and for personal expenses.

In January last year, Teo conned a second victim, Mr Willy Tan, into believing he could import a used Porsche 911 SC car for him from Europe costing $12,000.

After Mr Tan had handed over a $5,000 cash cheque to Teo as deposit for the purchase, he subsequently asked Teo to send him pictures of the car, the import documents and an estimated date of delivery. Teo was evasive and eventually stopped responding to Mr Tan.

Teo also conned an Indonesian, Ms Yohanes Thomson, whom he met in January 2015 through social media platform Instagram.

Ms Yohanes told him to get spare parts for her father's car. He told her he would deliver a LandCruiser 200 Urban package body kit, which he knew to be false. On Jan 26, she remitted $1,800 to him for the body kit.He also deceived her two other times, in February and March 2015, into paying some $3,550 for car spare parts. Teo then made numerous excuses for the delay.

Teo had previous convictions for theft, cheating and criminal breach of trust. He could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined for each charge of cheating.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 29, 2017, with the headline 'Bogus broker conned victims over watches, car parts'. Print Edition | Subscribe