Police nab 3 men in $100,000 'buried treasure' scam

At first, he thought he had literally struck gold.

Working in his office at Jalan Besar on Sunday evening, the businessman was approached by two men who told him they were construction workers.

They claimed they had unearthed 200 gold ingots while working at a construction site, and were willing to sell it to him for $100,000.

The men then proceeded to show the businessman a few of the ingots wrapped in newspaper, along with a letter written in Chinese, which resembled an old will to the treasure.

They also gave him a small gold shard that they claimed had been cut from one of the ingots. They even left it with the businessman so that he could test if it was genuine.

The businessman, who is in his 60s and declined to be named, thought at first that he had stumbled on a great deal, but later felt that something was amiss.

He decided to call an old friend, Lianhe Wanbao's associate editor, Mr Chin Khai Song, 47, for advice.

The crime reporter for 20 years immediately smelled a rat.

Said Mr Chin: "I told him that it was a possible scam, and even told him that similar cases have happened before."

The businessman decided to sleep on the matter before deciding whether to call the police.


While tests the following day at a goldsmith proved the gold shard to be genuine, the businessman remained unconvinced.

Nevertheless, he continued to exchange phone calls with the two men, and one of them even came to his office a second time that evening to discuss the deal.

On Tuesday, the businessman finally decided to call the police, who then set up an ambush at his office, where the transaction was to take place.

The two Chinese nationals were believed to be arrested as they were laying out the ingots to be counted.

A third man was arrested at a residential area in Hougang on the same day. The men are aged between 37 and 44.

The police said they seized over 200 pieces of gold-coloured ingots, a piece of paper with Chinese writing, some foreign currency and six gold-coloured mini Buddha statues.

The New Paper understands that when the men were questioned by the police, only one of them said he was a construction worker. Another claimed he was a taxi driver while the third said he was unemployed.

All three are expected to be charged today for attempted cheating.

If convicted, they each face a jail term of up to 10 years, as well as a fine.

The commander of Central Police Division, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Police Daniel Tan, said the public should remain vigilant to scams of this nature.

He said: "Our advice is that people should not let their guard down. If you come across an offer that seems too good to be true, then it probably is."

Mr Chin said he did not know why the men targeted his friend, but is glad he did not get cheated.

This article was first published on MONTH DAY, 2014. Get The New Paper for more stories.