Man Used Sleight of Hand to Swap $318,000 Ring with a Fake One; Asked for Forgiveness Upon Caught

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A man had used sleight of hand to swap a $318,000 ring with a replica.

This audacious act is far more elaborate than the incident in Bukit Batok where another individual used sleight of hand to trick a cashier into handing over extra change.

Instead, this incident somewhat resembles  the intricate plot of Ocean’s Eight, except instead of Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett, it involved two Chinese Nationals and ultimately, a jail sentence.

According to CNA, Wu Youquan, the man behind the ring swap, has been sentenced to 40 months in jail. He pleaded guilty to a theft charge, with another charge of attempted cheating taken into consideration for sentencing.

The Man Took Part in this Scheme to Earn “Fast Cash”

In October 2023, Wu Youquan was contacted by another Chinese national, Chen Hanbo, through WeChat. Chen inquired if Wu was interested in participating in “fast cash jobs.”

Wu agreed and Chen warned him that the job would be of high risk as it involved swapping a Tiffany & Co, a luxury jewellery brand, diamond ring with a replica. Wu, at that point, remained oblivious to the potential earnings from this operation. However, Chen assured him that he would not be shortchanged.

Thus, the two individuals embarked on a journey to Singapore, with Chen financing the trip and subsequent visits.

Their objective was to visit the Tiffany & Co store in Marina Bay Sands to identify a suitable ring before returning to China on 3 November.

The Second Visit to Singapore: In Search of a Big Diamond Ring

The plan began to take shape during the second trip. Following Chen’s instructions, Wu returned to Singapore alone six days later.

He assumed the role of a Taiwanese customer in search of a “big diamond ring” as a gift for his wife.

After seeking permission from the staff, he took a picture of a 3.18-carat ring and its S$318,000 price tag and sent the image to Chen.

Maintaining his ruse, Wu informed the staff that he would return within the next few days to make the purchase.

Wu returned to China the next day, and Chen informed him that a replica ring will be sent by mail.

It was an elaborate plan whereby a fake ring that looked exact the same was made. However, Wu noticed a subtle difference—the string of the price tag on the replica was slightly longer than that of the authentic ring. Chen claimed that it was unnoticeable.

The Third Trip: The Heist Unfolds

On 20 November, Wu made his final solo trip to Singapore.

Inside the Tiffany & Co store, he was attended to by another staff member. He specifically requested the diamond ring he had seen previously, prompting the staff to present multiple rings of varying carat sizes on a tray.

With the replica ring in his pocket, Wu carried the genuine ring and distracted the staff by expressing interest in another ring.

He swiftly made the swap when the staff opened another nearby drawer. Initially, the staff did not detect anything amiss.

However, his actions came to light after attempting to leave the store by claiming that he intended to buy another ring. The staff noticed that the texture of the price tag was different and confronted Wu.

Wu did not respond but eventually handed her the genuine ring and asked for forgiveness instead. He was subsequently arrested.

The Court’s Verdict

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kelly Ng described Wu’s actions as “highly premeditated” and motivated solely by personal financial gain. Consequently, she sought a minimum sentence of 42 months in prison.

However, DPP Ng acknowledged Wu’s clean criminal record in Singapore, his cooperation during the investigation, and his early guilty plea.

Wu, who was unrepresented in court, appealed for leniency. He contended that he had not removed the genuine ring from the shop and cited the stress caused by unfortunate family circumstances, including his daughter’s paralysis resulting from an accident, as contributing factors to his offence.

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