Ex-platoon sergeant forged SAF identity cards to cheat hotels

SINGAPORE - Armed with a scanner and details of soldiers' particulars, a former Singapore Armed Forces platoon sergeant forged multiple SAF identify cards on his computer.

Thng Jing Hui, 24, would scan his SAF identify card into his computer at home and then use software to superimpose either an SAF soldier's photograph or one randomly obtained from the Internet over his own.

He also bought goods online totalling $37,000 using stolen credit-card numbers.

Yesterday, Thng, who faced 38 charges, pleaded guilty to 11 in a district court.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tow Chew Chi said that while Thng was working in the SAF as a platoon sergeant, he had access to soldiers' particulars.

After printing the details onto a blank card, he would use the forged SAF identity cards to commit fraud and deceive hotel operators. In particular, between July 2011 and early 2012, he used the fake identities to register for hotel rooms where he would meet his friend.

Mr Tow said that in early 2012, Thng used the particulars of one Teo Yong Keng he met on an online forum to forge an SAF identity card, intending to cheat hotel operators when checking into hotel rooms.

Among the forged SAF identity cards was one with the name Joshen Ow, to which he added "Yong''. He was found out when police raided his home for another spate of cheating offences.

On the cheating offences involving a total of $37,389, Mr Tow said Thng was surfing the Internet in mid-2013 to learn how to set up a website for his business when he came across one where he could buy stolen credit-card numbers and their corresponding card verification value numbers.

He contacted the website operator, Kenneth, also known as Tommy, who later revealed himself to be Teh You Thong, a Malaysian.

Teh told Thng he would teach him the ropes provided Thng helped him collect goods that he had bought online fraudulently.

Thng also bought various items online for himself and Teh, using the stolen credit-card numbers. Most of the purchases were done through www.deal.com.sg operated by Dealguru Holdings.

Following a police report of suspicious transactions by daily deals Groupon's operator, Beeconomic Singapore, police arrested Thng on Oct 21, 2013, and recovered 12 laptops he had bought online.

The police seized more goods suspected of having been bought fraudulently, as well as multiple forged SAF identity cards and security passes, at his Tampines flat.

The case was adjourned to July 1 for his lawyer to mitigate.