Singapore

Man admits collecting $1m for syndicate after retiree is cheated

A man admitted in court yesterday that he had collected cash for an international syndicate behind a ruse that duped a retiree into handing over more than $5 million.

In November 2017, Looi Yu Chong, a Malaysian, collected over $1 million from the Singaporean woman who was swindled in a police impersonation scam. Others connected to the syndicate took the remaining amount.

Looi, 21, pleaded guilty in court yesterday to one count of dealing with the benefits of criminal activities totalling more than $655,000.

A second similar charge involving $500,000 will be taken into consideration during sentencing.

The court was told that on Nov 7, 2017, the woman received a phone call from someone from "Chinatown police station" who introduced herself as Yang Hai Ping. Yang told the retiree that she was a suspect in a "criminal case". The victim was given a so-called case number.

The call was then transferred to a man, Lei Ping, who directed the retiree to a fake Singapore police website which the syndicate had created. Deputy Public Prosecutor Suhas Malhotra said that when the woman keyed in her "case number" on the fake website, she saw a "warrant" for her arrest on suspicion of money laundering.

Lei Ping then told the retiree that her case would be handled by a "chief police officer" known as Chen Kan.

She later received a phone call from Chen Kan, who told her that the investigation would last seven days and that she would eventually be given documents to sign stating that she was "not guilty". Chen Kan also told her to give him the details of her bank accounts and she complied.

After this, on 11 occasions, he told her to deliver cash withdrawn from her accounts to people purportedly from the Chinese government. She was told that she would be assisting the police in a money-laundering investigation.

She complied out of fear and handed the money to different people, including a 58-year-old sales promoter who was also duped by the syndicate.

DPP Malhotra said that Looireceived more than $1 million of the retiree's money from the sales promoter in Singapore on Nov 16 and 17, 2017.

Looi was arrested by the Royal Malaysian Police on Jan 16 last year. He is expected to be sentenced today. - SHAFFIQ ALKHATIB

COURT & CRIME