Luxury watch scam: Man jailed for role in conning pawnshops

The Audemars Piguet watches, which even came with a certificate of authenticity, looked so real that pawnshops handed over $98,000 for them.

But a day after a victim made a police report, one of the accomplices in the alleged conspiracy was caught at Changi Airport.

Yesterday, 44-year-old Fong Kheng Yue was jailed for 18 months for his role in the scheme which earned him $10,000.

He pleaded guilty to three counts of scheming to cheat three pawnshops. Three other pawnshops were also targeted. Fong could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined on each charge.

The cases against his alleged accomplices Lam Chan Pieu, 30, and Chen Zhiwei, 33, are pending.

The court heard that some time early this year, Lam allegedly told Fong that he had several counterfeit Audemars Piguet watches. They decided to pass them off as the real thing and cheat pawnshops.

As part of the deal, Fong would keep 10 per cent of the proceeds on the pledge, and hand over the rest to Lam.

On Jan 11, Fong presented a watch, together with the fraudulent certificate of authenticity, to an employee of Heng Seng Pawnshop in Toa Payoh and got her to hand over $13,000.

Two days later, Fong and Chen went to Money Max pawnshop in Tampines Central and conned it into accepting a watch as collateral and handing over $15,000.

On Feb 1, Fong got away with $14,000 from Soon Yi Pawnshop in Woodlands. Three days later, he was caught by the police.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 12, 2015, with the headline 'Luxury watch scam: Man jailed for role in conning pawnshops'. Print Edition | Subscribe