Singapore

Man accused of cheating firm of $900,000 in Covid-19-related scam

A man suspected of defrauding an overseas distribution firm of more than US$646,000 (S$917,000) was charged yesterday with one count of cheating, in one of the biggest scams related to the Covid-19 outbreak here.

On April 30, Singaporean Chee Jian Rong allegedly duped Mr Anthony Bonacci into believing he had 150,000 units of personal protection gowns worth US$502,500 to sell.

As a result, Mr Bonacci, whose details were not disclosed in court documents, is said to have transferred more than US$250,000 to a United Overseas Bank (UOB) account as a deposit.

The police said in a statement yesterday that Chee, 35, is expected to face more charges.

They added that officers were alerted to the case on May 21, in which an overseas distribution company was defrauded of more than US$646,000 for buying N95 masks and personal protection gowns from a "supposed local supplier".

They said: "After the company transferred the monies to a local bank, the items were not delivered and the supplier became uncontactable."

The police did not disclose the names of the companies involved, but an online search revealed that Chee is a director of four Singapore-registered companies.

Three of them - ACS Myanmar Medical, ACSMED International and Qmaxx International - deal with wholesale items such as medical equipment.

The fourth one, Lekkha Moun, is a holding company involved in organisations such as sports clubs as a "secondary activity".

ARRESTED

The police said that officers from the Commercial Affairs Department arrested Chee on Tuesday.

Preliminary investigations revealed that he allegedly acquired the advance cash payments from the overseas distribution company and put them in several local and overseas bank accounts.

Working with DBS Bank, OCBC Bank and UOB, the police recovered more than $370,000. They are still trying to recover the rest of the money. To date, officers have seized two watches and more than $81,000 in cash.

Chee, who is unrepresented, is now remanded at the Central Police Division. He will be back in court on Thursday.

If convicted of cheating, he can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

The police said they take a serious view of all those who take advantage of the current Covid-19 situation to commit crimes and "will spare no efforts in taking all those who flout the laws to task".

COURT & CRIME