Before their million-dollar robbery in Little India in September 2012, the gang committed similar offences twice - succeeding in one and failing in the other.
In August that year, they robbed a money-changer employee of more than $74,000 in cash.
Just five days before their big heist, the gang attempted, but failed to rob, an elderly man who worked for a money changer.
Four of the five men involved in the Dunlop Street heist on Sept 10, 2012, were each sentenced yesterday to at least 10 years' jail with the maximum 24 strokes of the cane:
- Singaporean music teacher Magesan Ramasamy, 36, received the longest jail term - 10 years and six months.
- Mohamed Faizal Ajmalhan, 32, also a Singaporean who worked in the financial industry, was jailed for 10 years and four months.
- Indian nationals Arunachalam Lakshmanan, 37, and Chinnaya Antony Samy, 38, who were construction workers, each received 10 years' jail.
The court also found Mohamed Faizal and Magesan guilty of three counts of impersonating police officers to rob their victims.
Their accomplice, Singaporean taxi driver Mohammad Ansari Abdul Hussain, 36, was dealt with in court in 2013. (See report on right.) Before the Dunlop Street heist, investigations revealed that Faizal had told Ansari about a money changer at The 101 building at Beach Road.
It was then decided that Arunachalam and Chinnaya would target people who visited it.
On Aug 13, 2012, the men, excluding Magesan, robbed Mr Mohamed Eunos Mohamed Salleh, 66, who worked as a carrier for another money changer.
Ansari picked up his accomplices in his taxi that day and drove to The 101 building.
At around 11am, Mr Eunos' boss had asked him to go there to buy some foreign currency.
Mr Eunos, who was carrying a bag containing $74,730 in cash, was about to reach the building about 15 minutes later when the two Indian nationals approached him from behind.
Arunachalam grabbed his right shoulder while Chinnaya snatched the bag, causing Mr Eunos to fall to the ground.
Chinnaya picked up the bag and ran away before boarding another taxi.
He later met his accomplices and they divided the loot.
Using a similar ruse on Sept 5, 2012, all five men tried to rob Mr Mohamed Arif Mohideen, 64, who worked for a money changer at The Arcade shopping mall at Collyer Quay. Faizal and Arunachalam were to ambush him.
Ansari picked up Chinnaya, Faizal and Arunachalam in his cab and drove towards Raffles Place that day. Magesan drove his own car there.
At around 4pm, Mr Arif had just walked out of RHB Bank at nearby Cecil Street with about £5,000 (S$10,600) in cash when one of the men pulled his bag containing the money, causing him to fall. They tried to wrest the bag from him but failed.
Mr Arif shouted, causing Faizal and Arunachalam to make a run for Magesan's car, which was parked nearby. The men left the scene, empty-handed.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Crystal Tan said: "The fall caused the victim pain and abrasions on his right knuckle, knee and elbow."
Yesterday, the prosecution told District Judge Low Wee Ping that the amount involved in the Dunlop Street heist appeared to be the highest ever taken in a gang robbery case, as it pressed for stiffer jail sentences for Magesan and Faizal.
Before handing out the sentence, Judge Low said that Ansari was the leader of the group and its chief planner. He said: "Ansari was the lightning rod."
Fifth man gets 8 years' jail, 12 strokes of cane
The fifth man in the Dunlop Street robbery, Singaporean taxi driver Mohammad Ansari Abdul Hussain, 36, was sentenced to eight years' jail and ordered to receive 12 strokes of the cane on Sept 4, 2013.
He pleaded guilty in August that year to gang robbery and impersonating a police officer. Seven other charges were taken into consideration.
The five men had brazenly robbed three traders in broad daylight and made off with cash totalling $1,274,191 on Sept 10, 2012.
They committed the offence at a two-storey Dunlop Street lodging house in Little India at around 8.30am that day.
Two of them are Singaporeans - music teacher Magesan Ramasamy, 36, and Mohamed Faizal Ajmalhan, 32, who worked in the financial industry.
The other two are Indian nationals Arunachalam Lakshmanan, 37, and Chinnaya Antony Samy, 38. Both were construction workers.
The prosecution had earlier said that according to Arunachalam and Chinnaya, their victims - Indian nationals Antony Savarimuthu, Gulam Hussain Jalaludeen and Abuasanar Kamarulzaman - were carrying out an illegal money remittance business in 2012.
And the gang decided to rob them.
The three Singaporeans wore police uniforms provided by Mohammad Ansari, a police NSman, and confronted the traders in the lodging house.
They used plastic flexicuffs to restrain their victims before helping themselves to the money, while their two accomplices acted as lookouts nearby.
The trio escaped in a car with stolen number plates to a multi-storey carpark in Upper Boon Keng Road.
They then went to Mohammad Ansari's flat and divided the loot.
But their joy was short-lived as real policeman arrested them within 48 hours.
This article was first published on June 30, 2015.
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