SINGAPORE - He cooked up an elaborate plan to cheat someone in a money exchange scam, recruited his friends in the ruse and pestered another friend, who is a police officer, to access the police database.
Lincoln Poh Chong Tee, 26, was eventually caught and charged in court, and four of his friends have been dealt with or are now facing criminal charges.
On Thursday, Poh was sentenced to 12 months' jail after he pleaded guilty to five charges that included cheating and abetting the unauthorised use of the police database.
Five other charges were taken into consideration during sentencing, including wrongfully receiving confidential information under the Official Secrets Act.
Poh first met police officer Bryan Tay Wei Chuan, 29, while on holiday in Vietnam in February 2020.
There, they got to know one Raymond, otherwise known as Wang Yu Chi, who is based in Vietnam. His nationality is not mentioned in court documents.
In March, Poh messaged Tay for help to run Raymond's NRIC number through the police database for his criminal records.
He claimed that Raymond had been falsely implicated in an investigation with the authorities here. Tay used a police terminal to obtain Raymond's records and sent them to Poh.
The following month, Poh asked Tay for help again, to check if Raymond was wanted by the authorities. But this time, Tay refused.
It turned out that Poh and Raymond had been planning a money exchange service scam.
The court heard that in October 2020, Raymond contacted Ms Lin Chun Yan, 33, via social media platform WeChat, saying he could exchange Chinese renminbi for Singapore dollars.
They struck an agreement to exchange $150,000 worth of renminbi.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Jonathan Tan said: "The accused prepared $150,000 in cash that included his own savings, contributions from his girlfriend, as well as sums of money that his friends had entrusted to him to invest in Bitcoin.
"However, the cash was to be used as a prop, and they never intended to hand the cash over to the customer."
Tay was among the friends that Poh cheated to raise the money he needed for his scam.
The cop gave Poh $25,000 after he was falsely promised profits for Bitcoin investments.
After raising the $150,000 needed, Raymond facilitated a meeting between Ms Lin and Poh's friends Lin Wei Keong, 25, and Kelvin Yap Qi Hao, 25, who held the Singapore currency.
Convinced when she saw the money, Ms Lin transferred 400,000 yuan (S$80,600) to designated bank accounts, which was about half the sum they had agreed on.
But she wanted some security that the exchange would go through smoothly, so she asked Lin and Yap to give her the cash equivalent in Singapore currency for the 400,000 yuan she had already transferred.
The duo refused and ran off as part of the plan, fleeing on a bus.
Ms Lin and her husband gave chase in a taxi and caught up with them. They called the police, who arrested the duo and seized the money.
After their arrest, Poh surrendered himself to the police on Oct 21.
Seeking 12 months' jail for Poh, DPP Tan said Poh was centrally involved in planning the scam, preparing the money and recruiting his friends as runners.
The prosecutor said Poh also instigated Tay to conduct an unauthorised screening using a police platform by lying to Tay and pestering him for help.
DPP Tan added: "This pestering indicates an utter disregard for the law and is an aggravating factor."
Those who illegally access a restricted computer, or abet an offender to do so, can be jailed for up to two years and fined up to $5,000.