Man in kidnap and online sales scam gets 17 months' jail

Dwight T. Soriano, 30, who cheated his victims of more than $30,000 in an online scam, was jailed for 17 months on Thursday (Oct 15).
Dwight T. Soriano, 30, who cheated his victims of more than $30,000 in an online scam, was jailed for 17 months on Thursday (Oct 15). PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

SINGAPORE - An unemployed man, who cheated his victims of more than $30,000 in an online scam, was jailed for 17 months on Thursday (Oct 15).

Dwight T. Soriano, 30, also conned his ex-girlfriend into believing that he had been held captive and needed money to be paid for his release. He duped her into transferring $10,000 to his bank account.

He pleaded guilty last week to 19 o f 70 charges. The total amount involved in all the charges is $39,386.

Thirty-four victims were deceived into transferring money to his bank accounts or paying him cash for limited-edition G Shock watches, Gundam watches or figurines which he claimed he had for sale.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Charis Low told the court that Soriano left Singapore for Thailand in May 2013. While in Hat Yai in August that year, he accessed M1's Message Centre at an Internet cafe.

Purporting to be a kidnapper, he sent text messages to Ms Wong Yee Poh's mobile phone stating that he had been kidnapped and demanded ransom money for his release.

He told the her to deposit the ransom money into his POSB bank account . Each time she did that, Soriano - pretending to be the kidnapper - would send text messages to her claiming that he had been released but then recaptured.

He would then send her more text messages demanding further payments for his release.

Ms Wong lodged a police report on Dec 3 that year that she had transferred money to Soriano as he had purportedly been kidnapped.

Soriano was arrested at Changi Airport on July 15 last year.

He was on police bail pending further investigation when he committed a series of Internet sales scams.

Investigations showed that he had devised a scam to cheat people into transferring money to his bank accounts.

From August 2014 to March this year, he posted advertisements on websites and applications such as www.gumtree.com and www.hardwarezone.com and Carousell, claiming to have various items such as Gundam figurines and G-Shock watches for sale.

He used a variety of Carousell accounts to perpetuate the scam and avoid detection.

Subsequently, when his OCBC Bank account was frozen by the bank as police reports had been lodged, he started using the bank accounts of seven friends, one of whom lent him two accounts. He told them that his own bank account had been frozen and he needed to receive his salary from his employer or money from other friends.

Soriano, who made partial restitution of $6,303, could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined on each charge.