SINGAPORE, May 18 — A 43-year-old man who pawned high quality fake Rolex watches was sentenced to 11 months in jail yesterday.
Lee Wee Hua, a Singaporean, pleaded guilty to two cheating charges.
The court heard that he started pawning the fake watches as he was lured by the promise of quick cash by a person known only as Ah Guan who offered him a “job opportunity”.
The job required Lee to pawn fake goods that belonged to another unknown person. And in exchange, the accused would earn 20 per cent of the pawn value as commission.
Sometime in July last year, Lee went to Fook Soon Pawnshop in Ang Mo Kio to try to get a high quality fake Rolex pawned, but the valuer there told him that Rolex did not have such a model and refused to accept the watch.
Lee then lied that he had bought the watch from overseas and hastily left the shop.
Lee later managed to trade the fake watch for S$10,000 at Fund Express Pawnshop in Balestier on July 30, 2020.
That day, he had met Ah Guan at Whampoa Market to pick up a fake Rolex watch for sale first before heading to Fund Express to try to get it pawned off.
The valuer at the pawnshop, Chan Kam Wan, appraised the watch, erroneously assessed it to be a genuine watch, and quoted Lee a S$10,000 offer, which he accepted.
Lee subsequently handed the cash to Ah Guan, who in turn passed him S$2,000 as commission.
Ah Guan passed him another Swiss movement replica Rolex on Aug 1 that year.
Lee then went to Heng Heng Pawnshop in Hougang to get it pawned.
This second victim, Lam Kee Loi, a manager working at the pawnshop, offered Lee S$8,000 for the watch.
This time, Lee decided to keep the S$8,000 for himself, and lied to Ah Guan that the valuer told him that the watch was fake and that he had left without the watch.
Lee’s offences were only discovered after Lam was warned by his friend, who similarly worked in the pawnshop industry, that people were going around pawning fake Rolex watches.
Worried, Lam decided to verify the authenticity of the fake watch he had gotten from Lee by taking it to a watch specialist.
Lam filed a police report on Aug 7 after the watch specialist confirmed that the watch was indeed fake.
Chan made a report on Aug 12 after receiving a message from another branch warning him about someone with Lee’s particulars selling a fake watch.
Chan did so after taking the best quality replica fake Rolex watch to another shop for a more thorough appraisal, and determining that the watch was indeed a fake.
During mitigation, Lee’s lawyer, Suriya Prakash of Phoenix Law Corporation, told the court that while his client’s offence showed elements of premeditation, he had handed over his own identification card for registration purposes to generate a pawn ticket at both outlets.
This showed that Lee had “felt trapped and had no other choice but to resort to this to pay off debtors”, said the lawyer, adding that Lee’s actions were “not thought through”.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Phoebe Tan, however, sought a jail term of 14 months, pointing out that the amount cheated — S$18,000 (RM55,705.90) — was substantial and that no restitution was made.