Man jailed for a year for helping a syndicate cheat pawnshops with fake gold bars

Aldi Hoon Zhen Bao was sentenced to a year in jail for helping a syndicate cheat pawnshops with fake gold bars.
Aldi Hoon Zhen Bao was sentenced to a year in jail for helping a syndicate cheat pawnshops with fake gold bars.PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - A 22-year-old man, who pawned a total of 19 fake gold bars and handed over $33,000 he received from pawnshops to a syndicate member, was sentenced to a year in jail Friday (May 12).

Aldi Hoon Zhen Bao, a chicken and duck seller, admitted to two charges of conspiring with someone named "Ah Kim" to cheat pawnshops and one charge of conspiracy to try and cheat another pawnshop in September last year.

A district court heard that Hoon was recruited to help a syndicate dealing in fake gold bars.

Sometime in September last year, his friend, Wilson, introduced him to Ah Kim who asked him to help pawn fake gold bars.

Hoon's job was to take the gold bars and lie to the pawnshops about how he had gotten them. In return, he would receive 10 per cent of the money that was paid by the pawnshops for each gold bar he succeeded in pawning.

Hoon agreed to to Ah Kim's proposal as he owed Wilson money.

On Sept 9, Ah Kim drove him to Maxi-Cash at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8 where Hoon pawned seven fake gold bars to a staff there for $12,000. He claimed that the gold bars were given to him by his Indonesian grandfather.

Ah Kim also drove him to ValueMax at Bishan North Shopping Mall that day. Hoon presented six fake gold bars to the staff, claiming he had bought them in Malaysia. He was given $10,500.

The next day, Ah Kim drove him to Sheng Heng at Ang Mo Kio Avenue 8.

Hoon showed a staff member 10 fake gold bars which he claimed were from his late grandmother.

Initially, the staff member at the shop accepted them and said he would be paid $15,000. But he later realised that the bars were fake and told Hoon.

Hoon, who had two other charges taken into consideration, pawned 19 fake gold bars and received $33,000 which he handed over to Ah Kim. Ah Kim paid him $1,800 and said the balance of $1,500 would be paid to Wilson.

Hoon also tried to pawn another 15 fake gold bars. All the fake gold bars were seized and found to be gold plated with a low gold content.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Nathaniel Khng, who sought six months' jail per charge, cited aggravating factors. He said the offences were syndicated in nature and not one-off; there was pre-meditation and significant losses caused to the victims; and a significant number committed over a span of two days.

He said if such offences were allowed to be prevalent, they would have a negative impact on an important part of the financial services industry in Singapore, which caters to those who require short-term financial relief.

Hoon, whose sentence was backdated to Sept 15, could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined on each of the first two charges; and up to five years and fined for the attempt.