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Youth posed as luxury watch seller to rob man of S$50,000, used penknife to slash his face

SINGAPORE — Attempting to repay his gambling debts, Terry Tong Hong Zhi hatched a plan to masquerade as a seller of expensive watches on e-marketplace Carousell to rob potential buyers of cash.

Terry Tong Hong Zhi arrives at the State Courts on Apr 7, 2022. The 20-year-old slashed a man’s face while trying to rob him.

Terry Tong Hong Zhi arrives at the State Courts on Apr 7, 2022. The 20-year-old slashed a man’s face while trying to rob him.

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  • Terry Tong Hong Zhi, 20, will have to undergo at least 12 months of reformative training
  • He hatched a plan to rob potential luxury watch buyers by making fake listings on Carousell
  • He lay in wait for one victim at a private residential estate and tried to snatch S$50,000 in cash in a paper bag
  • When the victim resisted, Tong cut him on the face with a penknife

SINGAPORE — Attempting to repay his gambling debts, Terry Tong Hong Zhi hatched a plan to masquerade as a seller of expensive watches on e-marketplace Carousell to rob potential buyers of cash.

In July last year, Tong managed to bait his victim, Mr Nyugen Thanh Luan, to meet him with S$100,000 in cash placed in two paper bags to purchase the watch.

Armed with a penknife, Tong tried to snatch one of the bags containing S$50,000, cutting the victim's face in the process.

On Thursday (April 7), Tong, who turns 21 next week, was sentenced to at least 12 months of reformative training — a regimented rehabilitation programme for offenders under 21 who commit relatively serious crimes.

Offenders who are sentenced as such are given a minimum period for their reformative training, subject to how they respond to the rehabilitation.

Tong had pleaded guilty last month to one count of voluntarily causing hurt in attempting to commit robbery of S$50,000. Adult offenders can be jailed for at least five years and up to 20 years, as well as given at least 12 strokes of the cane.

Earlier, the court heard that he began gambling online in January 2020 and had borrowed money to cover his losses, eventually accumulating about S$40,000 in debt. He then came up with a plan to pay his creditors.

Thinking that the police were able to trace phones, Tong bought a SIM card on what he called the “black market” and inserted it into his sister’s spare mobile phone, using it to create accounts on Carousell under several monikers.

To convince potential buyers he was a genuine seller, he used an image he had found online of a middle-aged Chinese man as his profile pictures.

He also looked at luxury watch listings on Carousell for research purposes. He then listed a model manufactured by Patek Philippe on the platform, setting a price lower than other listings to attract buyers.

He picked Gerald Drive in Hougang as the meeting place, because it was quiet at night and would further convince potential buyers that he was a genuine seller since the location was within a private housing estate, the court heard.

Court documents also said Tong previously decided against robbing other potential buyers after observing them from a distance.

One was not alone as he came with a friend, while a few others mistakenly assumed Tong stayed at the Gerald Drive property, rang the doorbell and interacted with the property owners.

DISCARDED CLOTHING ITEMS

On July 13 last year, Mr Nyugen, 33, received a call from someone he knew as “Long” whom he sometimes helped to buy and sell watches.

Long, who is based in Vietnam, had seen Tong’s Carousell listing for a Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1A. The watch can cost more than twice the S$115,000 price that Tong had purportedly asked for, according to listings on online watch marketplace Chrono24.

Long then told Mr Nyugen to meet Tong on his behalf later that evening to buy the watch. At around 10pm, Tong approached the victim and brandished his penknife, demanding that Mr Nyugen hand over the paper bag.

When the other man refused, Tong tried to snatch the paper bag from him but Mr Nyugen pushed him away and tried to escape.

Tong chased and pushed him to the ground, then tried to snatch the paper bag again and failed to do so. Mr Nyugen shouted for help before Tong swung the penknife at him, cutting the left side of his face.

Following this, Tong ran back to his electric bicycle and fled to the void deck of his housing block, taking a route he had earlier planned to avoid being filmed on closed-circuit television cameras.

He called a friend and asked him to pick him up and drive to either Woodlands or Chua Chu Kang.

During the journey, Tong intermittently asked his friend to stop. He would alight, discard clothing items he had taken off, such as his windbreaker and shoes, and get back into the vehicle.

He also performed a factory reset on his sister’s mobile phone. When he got home, he removed the SIM card and threw it down the rubbish chute, the court heard.

Tong was arrested two days after the robbery and admitted to his offences.

Mr Nyugen was taken to Sengkang General Hospital in an ambulance and hospitalised for two days.

Related topics

court crime robbery penknife slash

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