A timely reminder that all that glitters is not gold

Two men walked into a shop in Jalan Besar on Sunday bringing with them an old Chinese will, a small piece of gold and an amazing story.

They told the shop owner that they were construction workers from China who had dug up gold ingots somewhere in Singapore. They offered to sell their find to him for $180,000. As proof, they handed him a small piece of gold for testing.

One later went back to to visit the businessman in soiled clothes, apparently to convince him that he had been involved in the digging. However, feeling that something was amiss, the businessman, who is in his 60s, went to the police. And on Tuesday night, police set up an ambush and nabbed the two men.

After further investigations, another man was arrested.

Police seized more than 200 gold-coloured ingots, a piece of paper with Chinese writing as well as six gold-coloured mini Buddha statues.

The three suspects - Chinese nationals aged between 37 and 44 and in Singapore on social visit passes - are expected to be charged in court today with attempted cheating. If convicted, they face up to 10 years in jail, and a fine.

After meeting the two men on Sunday, and seeing the "will", purportedly dated 1957, the businessman went to a goldsmith to check the thin piece of gold they left with him. Despite being told it was real, the businessman still felt the deal was too good to be true.

He told his friend Chin Khai Song, 47, an associate news editor with Chinese daily Lianhe Wanbao. Mr Chin urged him to go to the police.

It is believed that the businessman had convinced the two men to meet him to carry out the deal when the police arrested them.

Mr Chin yesterday received an award for public spiritedness from Central Police Division. The division's Commander Daniel Tan said the police are still investigating whether the three men were involved in similar cases.

He appealed to members of the public who might have encountered such scams to lodge police reports. "The advice that we want to give the public is not to let your guard down. If you see an offer that is too good to be true, it probably is," he added.


This article was first published on Nov 27, 2014.
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