Credit card crook brought to justice 21 years after absconding

SINGAPORE - A man who absconded to Malaysia more than 21 years ago after committing forgery offences was sentenced to three years' jail on Wednesday (Jan 17).

Tan Say Wee, 46, admitted to eight of 18 charges of forgery and abetment by conspiracy with William Chiah Wee Ming. The charges date back to 1996.

Banks and credit card companies were deceived into delivering credit cards to Chiah, who used them to incur charges of $34,746. Chiah, also 46, is still at large.

Tan, who ran a coffee stall in Malaysia and fathered two daughters, surrendered himself to the authorities on Aug 28 last year after he found out that his father had lung cancer.

The court heard last Wednesday that in February 1996, Tan had a sales agreement for the purchase of a flat owned jointly by Mr Teo Choon Huat and Ms Teng Kin Leng, as well as a tenancy agreement between his mother and Ms Ang Swee Lian.

When Chiah found out about these documents, he suggested that they use the particulars to fraudulently apply for credit cards. Tan agreed.

Tan would type out letters of authorisation for Chiah to collect notices of assessment from the Inland Revenue Authority and fill in the application forms.

Believing that Mr Teo had made the application, Hong Kong Bank delivered two credit cards in Mr Teo's name to Chiah, who used them to spend almost $22,000.

The two similarly obtained credit cards bearing the names of Ms Teng and Ms Ang. Chiah again used the cards to incur charges. He paid Tan $600 for his help.

Tan later decided to use his uncle Tan Beng Hui's name and particulars to apply for credit cards.

Tan and Chiah tried to obtain a Diners Club International card in Mr Teo's name. But the company contacted Mr Teo, who said that his particulars had been used to apply for credit cards without his consent.

Tan was arrested at the Toa Payoh Central Post Office on Aug 30 that year.

He was charged the following day, and jumped bail on Nov 8 the same year.

Tan's lawyer Choo Si Sen said in mitigation that his client played a relatively minor role, and was given a few thousand dollars by Chiah, who pocketed almost all the money.