'Robbed' banks using fake credit cards

Using fake credit cards, a painter stole $32,800 from UOB and Citibank ATMs on behalf of a foreign syndicate.

Yesterday, Lim Buan Huat (above), 48, was jailed for 7 1/2 years after he pleaded guilty to 20 charges of conspiracy to commit theft and possession of counterfeit credit cards.

District Judge Low Wee Ping said: "Twenty years ago, we would describe this as bank robbery but, today, we use technology to rob the bank."

The court heard that Lim met two men who asked him to join their business of cloning credit cards a few years ago. He declined the offer from the duo - a Malaysian and a Sri Lankan - whose real names he did not know.

Facing financial difficulties in September 2013, Lim changed his mind and approached them. The men offered him a "commission" of 10 per cent of the stolen amount.

In February last year, they introduced Lim to another unidentified Malaysian man, who showed him how to use a cloned credit card at a UOB ATM. A few days later, he met another Malaysian, who handed him about 100 counterfeit credit cards. He was told to use them to steal from UOB ATM machines in Toa Payoh and Bishan. He withdrew about $4,000, of which he was given $400.

Lim was caught red-handed with 90 credit cards bearing the images of the Bank of Montreal and Canada Trust on May 14 last year after making some Citibank ATM withdrawals. The bank was on the lookout for him, after noticing that over 100 credit cards linked to foreign banks had been used to withdraw cash.

Lim said he earned at least $2,000 in "commission" in all, with each withdrawal ranging between $50 and $500. He could have been jailed for 15 years and fined.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2015, with the headline ''Robbed' banks using fake credit cards'. Print Edition | Subscribe