SINGAPORE: In a bid to settle his gambling and loan shark debts, a man bought counterfeit Rolex watches and pawned them for more than 20 times the price he paid for them.
After successfully pledging a fake Rolex Submariner timepiece to a pawn shop for S$18,000, the man returned to the shop to pawn another watch and got a friend to pawn a third watch before being caught.
Aw Poh Seng, 33, pleaded guilty on Monday (Sep 19) to two counts of cheating and a third unrelated charge of carrying a stun gun at a fitness corner in Yishun. Three other charges will be considered in sentencing.
The court heard that Aw had racked up debts in July 2021 due to loans he took from unlicensed moneylenders as well as gambling debts.
He planned to deceive pawn shops by buying fake Rolex watches and pledging them at the shops in exchange for money. He looked for suppliers for counterfeit watches that bore very close similarities to the real deal and managed to find one.
He bought two counterfeit Rolex watches for S$800 and S$850. On Jul 15, 2021, Aw went to a pawn shop in Marsiling to pledge one of the timepieces. He presented the fake Rolex Submariner to an employee at the shop and claimed it was authentic.
The employee asked for a certificate of authenticity, but Aw claimed he had lost it. The employee was deceived and accepted the watch, giving Aw S$18,000 in return.
Aw also pawned a fake Rolex Deep Sea Dweller watch for S$16,500 at the same shop that day.
After receiving a total of S$34,500 for the two fakes, Aw grew emboldened and decided to cheat the shop again the next day, said the prosecutor.
However, he feared the shop would grow suspicious if he brought a third watch, so he asked a friend to help him. His friend agreed and took another fake Rolex Submariner to the same shop on Jul 16, 2021, where he pledged it for S$18,000.
Aw went to a gold shop to buy gold with the cash thereafter. The pawn shop caught wind of the scam and a police report was filed days later. Aw's friend was also nabbed. He pleaded guilty to his involvement and was sentenced in February this year.
When Aw was arrested, a gold amulet and a gold chain were seized from him, along with S$4,300 in cash. The pawn shop was willing to accept the gold and cash worth about S$31,700 in total as restitution.
No restitution was made for the remainder of the loss suffered of about S$20,000.
The court heard that Aw had convictions dating back to 2002, when he was convicted of theft as a young man and placed on probation. He breached his probation and was later convicted of other crimes including robbery with hurt and rioting, receiving jail terms and caning for different offences.
The prosecutor sought a total of 10 months' jail and a fine of S$3,000, saying that Aw's offences were clearly premeditated and planned. Aw also roped in an accomplice, said the prosecutor.
The defence asked for a slightly lower jail term, saying that his client was remorseful and has a family with three young children.
The judge adjourned sentencing to next month.