SINGAPORE — As her pawnbroking business was not doing well due to her competitors, Fun Sho Mei decided to pawn her customers’ pawned goods, which were still redeemable, to other pawn shops under her own name.
Her illegal scheme netted her more than S$710,000 in proceeds that helped keep her business afloat, a court heard on Thursday (Nov 2).
At the State Courts, the 65-year-old was sentenced to 18 months and two weeks’ jail after she pleaded guilty to five counts of unauthorised pawning of goods under the Pawnbrokers Act.
Ten other similar charges, including three for abetting her husband to pawn the goods, were taken into consideration during sentencing.
The court heard that Fun was the manager and shareholder at Yong Teck Pawnshop in Hougang when she decided to commit the offences from March 3 to Nov 26 in 2021.
Investigations revealed that her pawnbroking business has not been doing well since 2011 due to increased competition from chain pawnshops. Her business has since shuttered.
At the time, the poor business outlook led Fun to take the pledges of some of her customers and pawn them without authorisation under her own name at third-party pawnshops to generate some money.
Pledges are pawned goods that can be redeemed back by the original owner when they pay a fee on or before the redemption period.
Fun also instigated her husband to do the same with other pledges at the same third-party pawnshops.
He did so on the belief that the items he pawned belonged to her, court documents showed.
For the five charges that the prosecution proceeded with, Fun received a total of S$421,790 in sales proceeds from these third-party pawnshops, namely Heng Heng, ValueMax (Hougang), Shing Heng, Moneymax and Wing Teck.
Ministry of Law prosecutor Benjamin Yim said that for all 15 charges, the amount that Fun received was S$711,670.
Before Yong Teck Pawnshop’s closure on June 3 last year, RSM Corporate Advisory, a professional services business offering audit services, was appointed to be the receivers of the pawnshop’s properties and assets on Nov 26, 2021.
The Registry of Pawnbrokers was later informed by RSM Corporate Advisory on Dec 16, 2021, of missing pledges that were suspected to have been taken to be pawned at other pawnshops.
RSM Corporate Advisory later confirmed its suspicion when it discovered that 346 pawn tickets for the pledges involved were allegedly further pawned by Fun or her husband at 12 third-party pawnshops.
Addressing the prosecution’s position, Mr Yim said that Fun was in dire need of cash and she happened to be in possession of a lot of valuables that could be pawned for money.
As she was facing a cash flow problem at the pawn shop, she took the valuables and pawned them without authorisation, which prevented the original owners from coming back to redeem them, Mr Yim added.
For each charge of unauthorised pawning of goods, she could have been jailed for up to 12 months or fined up to S$20,000, or both.