The scammer purportedly bought nearly S$80,000 worth of branded goods with the money he robbed from his victims. — TODAY picSINGAPORE, April 13 — Looking to cash in on the fever for cryptocurrency, a 36-year-old man allegedly came up with a bitcoin scam, where he planned to rob his victims.
Posing as prospective sellers, the unemployed man and his accomplice met a Malaysian and his bitcoin broker for a face-to-face transaction, and purportedly robbed them of S$365,000 (RM1.07 million) in cash.
Mohd Abdul Rahman Mohamad was charged with one count of robbery with hurt yesterday.
The Malaysian, who is also a Singapore permanent resident, was separately charged with a second crime of housebreaking and theft by night on the same day.
Yesterday, taking the media through the details of the two crimes where Abdul Rahman allegedly made away with close to half a million dollars, commander of the Central Police Division and assistant commissioner of police (AC) Arthur Law said the bitcoin scam-cum-robbery is unusual as bitcoin transactions are rarely done in cash.
Generally “when people transact in bitcoin, they do not carry that kind of cash”, where they run the risk of being robbed, he said.
Claiming to be a part-time bitcoin broker, Abdul Rahman and his accomplice, Syed Mokhtar Syed Yusope, met Malaysian Pang Joon Hau and his bitcoin broker at their hotel room at Hotel 81 along Middle Road on Sunday night (April 8).
Pang, who got to know of Abdul Rahman through his broker by word of mouth, had travelled to Singapore to buy bitcoin — with cold, hard cash.
After being shown the Singapore dollar bills, Abdul Rahman and Mokhtar punched Pang in the face and fled with S$365,000 in cash.
It is believed that he gave S$10,000 to Mokhtar, after which Abdul Rahman splurged on luxury hotel stays in the Orchard Road area, and went on a two-day shopping spree.
He purportedly bought nearly S$80,000 worth of branded good items, including a Rolex watch worth $45,800, jewellery, and a good number of Armani Exchange apparel.
The police arrested him on Tuesday night at a luxury hotel in Sentosa.
They recovered S$14,000 worth of cash to date, and the S$80,000 worth of branded items which he had bought.
The day before, his 36-year-old accomplice, Mokhtar, was arrested at the Woodlands Checkpoint. The police recovered S$5,000 in cash from him.
The Singaporean, who was working as an Uber driver, had been charged in court on Wednesday with the same offence of robbery with hurt.
Abdul Rahman’s ex-wife was also hauled up in court yesterday and charged with dishonestly receiving stolen goods.
Yogeshwry Raman, 33, had allegedly received a gold chain and bangle, S$4,500 cash and a Rolex watch, from Abdul Rahman. She hid the items in a container of washing powder.
For this case, the police said they are also investigating the origins of Pang’s money. Separately, through further police investigations, Abdul Rahman is believed to have been involved in a case of housebreaking and theft at a landed property along Chuan Walk in Lorong Chuan last month.
He allegedly got away with cash and valuables totalling to about S$150,000. No one was at home at the time.
A DNA match had linked the two cases together, the police said, without giving more details.
For robbery with hurt, Mokhtar and Abdul Rahman could face a jail term of between five and 20 years, and caning of up to 12 strokes.
For the offence of housebreaking and theft by night, Abdul Rahman could be jailed between two and 14 years.