Rock sugar scam turns sour for couple

Rock sugar scam turns sour for couple

SINGAPORE - Singapore's only rock sugar manufacturer Cheng Yew Heng has successfully taken to task a couple who tried to pass off imported rock sugar as a product of the company.

The couple, Mr Chia Kim Yong and Madam Tan Peck Hou, published a public apology in The Straits Times on Monday.

The quarter-page message stated that the couple "undertake to cease and desist from committing any further such acts". They have also paid undisclosed damages to Cheng Yew Heng.

The company's owner Mr John Cheng said a regular customer tipped him off about the scam in early November. Mr Cheng, 31, then contacted law firm Wong & Leow LLC.

It led to a Nov 5 raid in which police seized 1,080 bags of rock sugar from an undisclosed location.

Each 3kg bag bore the company's registered star trademark and similar packaging to that of Cheng Yew Heng's Star Brand rock sugar.

But unlike the authentic product, the bags did not have an expiry date. A black border around the barcode box was also missing.

The counterfeit bags contained rock sugar imported from overseas, said Mr Cheng. A 3kg pack of the Star Brand rock sugar, often used in Chinese desserts, costs about $7, a dollar more than similar Chinese-made packs.

Only a handful of the counterfeit bags are believed to have been sold.

Customers who bought these products can exchange them for an authentic one with the company.

Searches with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority show that Mr Chia and Madam Tan are director and manager, respectively, of two different general wholesale trading companies.

When The Straits Times contacted Madam Tan, she said she was busy and hung up.

This is the first such incident encountered by Cheng Yew Heng, which was started in 1947 by Mr Cheng's grandfather. Mr Cheng will not be suing the couple.

"We hope the public will be cautious when buying products," he added.

"If the price is much lower than usual and they are not sure if it is real, they should check with the manufacturer."

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