SINGAPORE - By using fake invoices, the sole director of a company which provides renovation and interior design services duped a crowdfunding firm into disbursing more than $25 million in cash.
The firm, Capital Springboard Singapore, allows small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to borrow cash from investors against unpaid invoices issued to customers by the SMEs.
Although Choy Peiyi, 35, returned about $20 million of the money, the company still suffered over $6.8 million in losses. The director of Vanguard Project Management was sentenced on Thursday (June 28) to 10 years' jail after pleading guilty on June 8 to 23 counts of cheating.
Another 212 cheating charges and two counts of money laundering were considered during sentencing.
She committed these offences between late 2014 and early last year.
In a genuine arrangement, Choy could sell monies owed to Vanguard Project - as indicated in invoices - to a factoring agency like Capital Springboard Singapore which would, in turn, hand her the cash.
And in certain circumstances, when Vanguard Project is paid by its clients, it could return the amount given by the factoring agency.
Choy abused the system and decided to cheat Capital Springboard Singapore.
To create fictitious invoices and purchase orders, Choy made ink stamps bearing the names of companies including Fish & Co restaurants and cleaning company Evershine Services.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Leong Weng Tat said that between November 2016 and March last year, she created 23 fictitious invoices issued by Vanguard Project for purported renovation works which were not carried out.
These invoices bore the names of the companies whose ink stamps she had duplicated. Choy then submitted these bogus invoices to Capital Springboard Singapore which handed her the money.
Court documents did not mention how her offences came to light. But after her arrest, she admitted to the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) that she used about $1.4 million of her ill-gotten gains to pay off items including her company's bad debts.
DPP Leong added: "The accused had also admitted to the CAD that she had spent the money on herself, to gamble at Marina Bay Sands, for overseas trips, to purchase a second hand BMW and also to pay the down payment for a condominium unit."
Choy is now out on bail of $300,000 and was ordered to surrender herself at the State Courts on July 12 to begin serving her sentence.
Capital Springboard CEO Roger Crook told The Straits Times: "Since identifying this case of fraud, we have instituted significantly more reviews of SMEs' original online bank statements and online bank accounts to ensure that payments were actually made by their specific SME debtors. We also conduct frequent on-site visits to SME offices for business reviews and documentation checks. Where we find unsatisfactory levels of documentation, we have stopped conducting business with some SMEs as well."