SINGAPORE - A Malaysian man who arranged to meet a prospective bitcoin seller to buy the digital currency was robbed of $365,000 in cash instead.
Mr Pang Joon Hau, who is believed to be in his 20s, had come to Singapore to purchase bitcoins and contacted a Singaporean broker.
On Sunday (April 8), Mr Pang and his broker met a man who claimed to have bitcoins to sell and another who passed himself off as a broker, at Hotel 81 in Middle Road, where Mr Pang was staying.
After ascertaining that Mr Pang had the amount both parties had agreed upon, the two men assaulted the Malaysian and his broker and made away with the cash, the police said at a press conference on Thursday.
Two 36-year-old men were later arrested and charged with robbery with hurt. One of them, Mohd Abdul Rahman Mohamad, was on the run when he allegedly robbed Mr Pang.
Commander of Central Police Division, Assistant Commissioner Arthur Law, told reporters on Thursday that it is not common for people to perform bitcoin transactions in person, and with such large amounts of cash.
A police spokesman added that the police are investigating the origins of Mr Pang’s money, which he carried in cash.
Abdul Rahman, who was charged on Thursday, had allegedly committed other offences including cheating in 2016 and had a warrant of arrest issued against him when he failed to turn up in court on April 5.
He allegedly robbed Mr Pang three days later on Sunday, with Uber driver Syed Mokhtar Syed Yusope, at around 11.40pm that day.
Mokhtar was arrested at the Woodlands Checkpoint on Monday and charged with one count of robbery with hurt two days later. Abdul Rahman, who was caught in a Sentosa hotel on Tuesday, was handed a similar charge on Thursday.
His former wife, Yogeshwry Raman, 33, was also taken to court on Thursday and charged with dishonestly receiving stolen property valued at $50,300, including a Rolex watch worth $45,800.
Abdul Rahman was facing 11 other charges before he allegedly robbed Mr Pang.
He is said to have assaulted a man known as Yugendiran Jagapalan in a flat at Block 8 Lorong Lew Lian near Upper Serangoon Road on April 19, 2016.
On July 10 that year, he allegedly misappropriated debit cards belonging to another man.
He is also accused of committing five counts of cheating with an alleged accomplice Selvandran Nagendran, 33, later that day. They allegedly used the cards to buy items worth $3,674, including a mobile phone and two rings.
On Aug 15, 2016, Abdul Rahman is accused of harassing a man and a woman by hurling vulgarities at them. He allegedly harassed her again on Dec 7 that year before assaulting the same man later.
Mokhtar’s case has been adjourned to April 18 while Abdul Rahman and Yogeshwry will be back in court the following day. The trio are now remanded at the Central Police Division.
The police have advised the public to exercise discretion when dealing with strangers, and to avoid carrying large amounts of cash.
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