Two Indian nationals jailed for fake jewellery scam

Gurpreet Ram Sidhu (22) and Jaswinder Singh Brar (38) were jailed yesterday for pawning gold-plated copper items and raking in 55,310 Singapore dollars, The Straits Times said.

Sidhu was jailed for 15 months for his role in conspiring to cheat 11 pawnshops between April and October last while Brar has been awarded a ten-month sentence for pawning 30,360 Singapore dollar worth of fake jewellery. The duo were in Singapore on social visit passes and could have been jailed for up to 10 years.

A third Indian national, Jagtar Singh (28), had approached Sidhu for the scheme of pawning fake jewellery, all of which was gold-plated copper with hooks and fastenings made of solid gold, according to the report. Singh told Sidhu to wear the fake items, and remove them in front of the pawnshop staff showing that he owns them.

The staff would check the jewellery for number "916" ensuring that it was made of 91.6 per cent gold and carry out chemical tests on hooks and fastening, which were of solid gold. Sidhu also got three other Indian national flatmates to pawn several items without revealing to them that the jewellery was fake. For his part in the scam, Brar convinced his girlfriend, Noor Mardiah Saleh (25), to help pawn the items and as Singaporean bargain for a better price. Noor allegedly recruited three other Singaporeans for the scam.

The pawnshops paid out between 2,100 and 5,000 Singapore dollars for each item pawned. Sidhu, Brar and Singh then took the money, giving the others between 50-500 Singapore dollars each for every item pawned. The source of fake items remains unknown, said the report. The crime came to light when the Singapore pawnbrokers Association sent out advisories to the pawnshops.

Tests by Singapore's Health Science Authority indicated the items were made of gold-plated copper except for hooks and fastenings. Sidhu, who did not have a lawyer, pleaded for a short jail sentence so that he could return home as soon as possible, while Brar's lawyer, S K Kumar, pointed out that his client played a much smaller role in the scam than Sidhu. Among the accomplices, Singh has been charged and faces a pre-trial conference later this month. 

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