DBS wealth planning manager cheated clients of over S$400,000 to fund gambling habit
Marcus Loh Thim Mun took advantage of the trust that his close clients had in him and tricked two of them into thinking they could place a fixed deposit with a higher interest rate.
When his gambling debts had grown out of hand, Marcus Loh Thim Mun decided to target clients with surplus funds and with whom he had built close relationships.
Within a month, the wealth planning manager with DBS bank managed to cheat four clients of more than S$400,000.
To further his crimes, he also forged a letter that offered one of his victims the chance to take part in a fake DBS share ownership scheme.
Loh, 31, pleaded guilty on Wednesday (Dec 23) to three counts of cheating, one count of forgery and a fifth charge of using benefits from criminal conduct.
Another seven charges, including participating in unlawful remote gambling, will be taken into consideration for sentencing next year.
Loh worked for DBS from September 2017 till his offences came to light in November 2018, the court heard.
Three of his victims were Singaporeans. One, then aged around 54, was a retiree. The fourth victim is a 50-year-old Sri Lankan national.
THOUGHT VICTIMS WOULD TRUST HIM
Loh began executing his scheme in October 2018 when he needed money to pay off his debts. He had about 90 clients at the time.
He targeted those he was close to, thinking they would trust him more easily and ask fewer questions.
For two of the victims, he told them that DBS was offering a special promotion exclusive to existing clients. He also lied that they could place a fixed deposit with the bank and get higher interest than what is typically earned from savings accounts.
They were guaranteed an interest rate of 4 to 5 per cent per annum, and Loh told them that the maturity period for the fixed deposit was one year. He told one of them that the minimum amount was S$20,000 and that her capital was guaranteed.
He then arranged to meet them to place the fixed deposits.
On Oct 24 in 2018, he met one of them. As she was not familiar with the process, she did as she was told and left it to him to place the deposit.
However, Loh transferred S$50,000 from her bank account to his DBS Multiplier account, then lied that the account receiving her transfer was one that he had specially created for her fixed deposit.
A week later, he met the other victim at a DBS branch.
He got her to apply for internet banking, asked her to log into her account using his DBS-issued iPad and gave her detailed instructions. This included which bank account to transfer the money.
She then moved S$250,000 to Loh’s Multiplier account because she trusted him.
DBS has since compensated both victims.
OFFERED CHANCE AT SHARE OWNERSHIP SCHEME
That same month, Loh told another victim that, in light of his own performance, the bank was offering him the opportunity to take part in a DBS share ownership scheme. He said that employees would get an interest rate of 20 per cent per annum for one year.
He offered to repay the victim a favour by getting him to join the scheme.
As it was allegedly exclusive to DBS employees, Loh told the client to transfer the money to his bank account first.
Loh then forged a letter using the DBS letterhead and stamp, titled “Special Deposit Placement”. It provided details such as the placement amount and stated that the victim would receive S$24,000 on the maturity date.
The victim transferred S$20,000 to him in the end.
PLACED SPORTS BETS
As for the fourth victim, Loh pretended to help her to place a S$100,000 fixed deposit with DBS on Nov 13 in 2018 at the Woodlands Civic Centre branch.
She left it to him to do it because she was not familiar with the process. He then transferred the sum to his Multiplier account.
When she saw the transfer but could not see details on her fixed deposit, she asked what had happened. Loh replied that it was due to a system delay, so she left.
Later that day, he called her to say that S$50,000 would be transferred back to her so that she could consider buying investment products. The remaining S$50,000 would purportedly be placed in a special fixed deposit with a guaranteed interest rate of 2 per cent per annum.
For unknown reasons, Loh then transferred S$50,000 back to her.
Two days later, she asked again why she could not see details on her fixed deposit.
Loh said that he was on leave, so she went to another DBS branch to get clarification. She was told that the bank had no records of the deposit being placed and that it would investigate the matter.
Loh’s Multiplier account was frozen on Nov 16, 2018. A DBS employee made a police report that day.
Of the money he cheated, Loh had transferred S$88,000 to designated bank accounts to buy virtual credits on a gambling site. He used the credit to place bets on sporting events.
Loh has since made full restitution to DBS, which had stepped in to compensate all the victims.
For cheating, he could be jailed up to 10 years and fined. For forgery, he could be jailed up to four years or fined, or both.
For using benefits from criminal conduct, he could be jailed up to 10 years or fined up to S$500,000, or both.
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