Two men from Hong Kong jailed for cheating watch shops

SINGAPORE - Two men from Hong Kong conspired to cheat four watch shops in Singapore into coughing up a total of $18,900 for six high-grade imitation watches, which the men had passed off as genuine.

On Wednesday (June 21), delivery driver Cheung Siu Wa, 50, and his godson, Chow Chun Ting, 33, were each sentenced to 14 months' jail for abetment by conspiracy to cheat.

Each admitted to two of four counts of abetment by conspiracy to cheat on Feb 16. They duped Brightime Watch shop at The Bencoolen into believing that a Chopard and a Cartier watch were genuine and induced the owner to hand over $5,400.

They cheated a shop owner at Lucky Plaza over the sale of a fake Cartier watch for $4,100.

Investigation showed that the duo entered Singapore on a social visit pass on Feb 15. They were supposed to leave on Feb 18.

They had bought some Chopard and Cartier watches in Japan and Hong Kong at a significantly lower price as they were imitation watches of a high grade, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Jeslyn Chionh.

When they arrived in Singapore, they sourced out which watch shops to approach to sell their watches as genuine luxury watches, and to determine how much these shops would offer them for the watches.

To coordinate this, a WhatsApp chat group was created, which included Cheung, Chow and another unknown person. They shared information about the price offered to each of them in the shops that they had gone to, and which shops accepted what kind of watches.

On Feb 16, Chow went to Brightime Watch Shop at Bencoolen Street and informed the owner that he wanted to sell his watches as he had gambled all his money and needed money to gamble again. But neither of them visited any casino in Singapore.

Chow presented a Cartier Ballom Blue watch with an accompanying warranty booklet, and one Chopard Imperiale watch to sell to the owner, who paid him $5,400.

The same day, Cheung went to Horological Restoration Centre at Lucky Plaza and wanted to sell one Cartier Santos watch.

When the owner asked for the watch's certificate, Cheung left and returned with the certificate. He was paid $4,100 in cash.

Both victims later reported to the police that they had been sold fake watches. Both men were arrested.

District Judge Mathew Joseph agreed with the prosecution that the offences were pre-meditated, involved a significant sum of money and there were aggravating factors.

"Let me say this. I make it very clear - foreigners who come to Singapore to commit crime and where syndicates are involved, this is a particularly heinous form of crime, and it is in the public interest that the court imposes a sentence that is not just deterrent but also sends a strong signal for potential offenders that Singapore is not a safe haven for them to come and commit their offences with impunity,'' he said.

The maximum punishment for cheating is 10 years' jail and a fine per charge.