Couple in $32m luxury goods scam were arrested at budget hotel in Johor Bahru
The couple linked to a scam involving luxury bags and watches worth $32 million were arrested at a budget hotel in Skudai Johor, a 20-minute drive from the Causeway.
Plainclothes Malaysian police officers caught Pi Jiapeng, 26, and his wife, Thai national Pansuk Siriwipa, 27, by surprise as the pair were about to check into the BookMe Hotel in Johor Bahru on Wednesday night (Aug 10).
A staff member from the hotel told The Straits Times: "The couple were not staying at the hotel. They were checking in when the police came for them.
"It all happened very fast and they were taken away within five minutes."
A screengrab off the hotel's closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera system showed two police officers standing next to the couple as they sat on a bench at the hotel lobby.
Checks showed the hotel, which has 34 rooms, charges $25 for a night for its deluxe queen room.
The staff member told The Straits Times that the hotel management is aware of the incident which happened at about 11pm.
The couple returned to Singapore under police escort on Thursday to face charges of criminal conspiracy to commit cheating and illegal departure from Singapore.
Pi and Siriwipa were seen in casual clothing at about 6.15pm at the Woodlands Checkpoint on Thursday, flanked by Singapore police officers carrying two black bags believed to contain the couple's belongings.
At least 180 reports have been lodged since June this year against the couple after they allegedly failed to deliver luxury watches and bags.
Victims claimed that they had given the couple advance payments for the items. They include one man who paid $280,000 for two Rolex watches and a Patek Philippe watch.
Pi and Siriwipa were called up by the Singapore Police Force (SPF), with Pi given bail on June 28 while Siriwipa's passport was impounded on June 30.
The couple became uncontactable and fled Singapore on July 4, and a warrant of arrest was subsequently issued against the couple on July 16.
An Interpol red notice was later issued against the two.
SPF said they had received information on Wednesday from the Royal Thai Police indicating the couple may be staying in a Johor Bahru hotel.
"The SPF immediately sought the assistance of the Royal Malaysia Police to locate the couple," said SPF.
"The warrant of arrest was executed by the Royal Malaysia Police in Johor Bahru on Aug 11."
The pair will be charged on Friday afternoon.