Malaysian who collected more than $1M in China official impersonation scam jailed 4 years 10 months

28-Jan-2019 Intellasia | Yahoo News Singapore | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Lured by the promise of “easy money”, a Malaysian agreed to act as a money mule by collecting more than a million dollars belonging to Singaporeans who were cheated by a syndicate.

Looi Yu Chong, 21, was recruited by a friend after he was told that he would only have to receive the monies cheated from the victims of a China official impersonation scam and hand them other to other runners.

Feeling confident that the job was easy, Looi agreed to it despite knowing that the money he would be handling was from victims of crime.

The law caught up to him and he was arrested on 16 January last year. By then Looi had collected cash amounting to $1,155,785.60.

Looi was jailed four years and 10 months in the State Courts on Friday (25 January) after having pleaded guilty to one count of dealing with the benefits of criminal activities totalling more than $655,000. Another similar count involving $500,000 was considered for his sentencing.

Looi committed the offences in November 2017 when he came to Singapore from Malaysia. The syndicate he worked for swindled Ang Kah Kim and Tan Saw Kuan, both 58-year-old women, of their money.

Ang, a retiree, received a call on 7 November 2017 purporting to hail from “Chinatown police station” with a pending case. After being transferred from one sham policeman to another, Ang was directed to give her personal details to the “officers”, who claimed she was being investigated by Chinese authorities for a criminal case.

Ang was also warned that she would be arrested by the police if she were to reveal her case to the media.

Over the next two days, Ang was instructed to give the “police” more personal details. She provided the swindlers her online banking log-in details and her one-time pin through a fake Singapore police website on 11 November 2017.

Between 11 November and 21 November, Ang also handed money to purported officials from the Chinese government on 11 separate occasions, passing six-digit sums each time. She was told that she would be assisting the police in a money laundering investigation.

ln total, Ang was duped into delivering cash of up to $5,016,196 to the syndicate.

Similarly, Tan, a sales promoter, was deceived by the syndicate into believing she was under criminal investigation after receiving a call from the scammers on 9 November 2017. She was told she had to assist investigations by collecting cash from strangers and delivering it to other individuals.

Hoping to prove her innocence, Tan collected money from Ang on 10 occasions and passed them to other strangers, including Looi, who received the cash on 16 and 17 November 2017.

Looi would then leave the cash in a toilet cubicle for another member of the syndicate to collect.

On the two days, Looi collected $1,155,785.60 of Ang’s savings from Tan and passed them to the syndicate.

For his “work”, Looi was paid 1,500 Malaysian ringgit by his friend. He was only arrested on 16 January last year by the Royal Malaysian Police and was later extradited to Singapore.

In calling for a jail sentence of five and a half years for Looi, deputy Public Prosecutor Suhas Malhotra pointed that such scams were hard to investigate due to their transnational element of the syndicate.

Said the DPP, “The entire enterprise would fail, unless the runners (the syndicate) employs are trustworthy and follow their instructions diligently. The accused is one such runner.”

Looi’s lawyer John Koh, from Populus Law Corporation, said that his client had no control over the amount he received.

His client was a mere “foot soldier” in the entire operation, said Koh, who urged the court to jail Looi between 45 and 49 months.

District Judge Victor Yeo said that the level of harm in Looi’s case was “severe” and that the cheating was serious.

A police impersonation scam “has the potential to undermine the confidence of public administration”, said the judge.


Category: Malaysia

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