Jail for man who let his bank account be used to receive money stolen from retiree in $1m scam
Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 16 Mar 2023
Author: Shaffiq Alkhatib
He committed the offence despite knowing that his OCBC account was only for his personal use and that he was not supposed to allow anyone else to use it.
In exchange for cash, a man agreed to let others use his bank account, which later received part of a retiree’s $1 million life savings after she was duped in a scam.
Between January and February 2022, at least 75 unauthorised transactions involving nearly $500,000 were performed via 24-year-old Lin Chien Wei’s bank account.
Of this amount, nearly $250,000 was traceable to the 75-year-old victim’s bank account. Most of the money in Lin’s bank account had since been transferred out, leaving a balance of only $504.11.
Lin was sentenced to four months and two weeks’ jail on Wednesday after he pleaded guilty to an offence under the Computer Misuse Act. He has made no restitution.
His accomplice, Dickson Jong Chee Siang, 29, was sentenced to nine months’ jail in January.
Court documents did not state if the two Malaysians were part of the group that scammed the retiree.
The prosecution said that on Dec 9, 2021, the victim received phone calls from several people claiming to be from the “Chinese Judicial Investigation Department”.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Stephanie Koh said: “These persons claimed that the victim’s identity had been misused in China, and she was required to assist in investigations.
“These persons instructed the victim to report to them by sending them messages every morning, afternoon and evening to ensure that she remained contactable.”
They also told the victim to provide her personal details such as her identity card number and home address. She complied with their instructions.
In mid-December 2021, she received letters bearing the letterheads of the Singapore Police Force, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the State Courts.
Left outside her door, the letters stated that she was suspected of illegally opening a Chinese bank account.
The victim was told to cooperate with the so-called Chinese Judicial Investigation Department and received a package containing a mobile phone in January 2022.
The DPP said: “She was then contacted by someone who directed her to use a ‘Team Link’ video-conferencing application which was pre-installed in the mobile phone.
“She engaged in multiple video calls with various persons on the... application, during which she was instructed to position the phone camera towards her personal mobile phone.”
During these phone calls, her personal mobile phone received several one-time-passwords (OTPs) sent to her by Singpass and UOB.
Without her knowledge, the victim’s life savings totalling $1 million were transferred from her Central Provident Fund account to her UOB bank account on Jan 18, 2022.
After that, the money was transferred to other bank accounts between Jan 28 and Feb 3, 2022.
The victim lodged a police report on Feb 4, 2022, and Lin was then traced as the holder of one of the bank accounts that received part of her money.
DPP Koh said that Lin and Jong were acquaintances. In early January 2022, Lin found out that Jong was offering cash payments for the use of bank accounts – purportedly for cryptocurrency trading.
The prosecutor added: “The accused approached Dickson because he wanted to earn extra cash and agreed to loan Dickson his personal OCBC account... in exchange for payment of $500 a month.
“The accused met up with Dickson and gave him his OCBC iBanking details, ATM card and PIN (personal identification number).”
On Jong’s instructions, Lin also changed the contact number attached to his OCBC Bank account to another provided by Jong.
This was done so that the OTPs for online transactions would be sent to that number instead.
Lin committed the offence despite knowing that his OCBC account was only for his personal use and that he was not supposed to allow anyone else to use it.
Source: Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction.