Jail for undergrad who bought stolen credit card details to make fraudulent online purchases

John Foo Chi Yang had bought more than $19,000 worth of products online using fraudulently obtained credit card details, including formulated milk powder, diapers and tonic wine. PHOTO: LIANHE WANBAO

SINGAPORE - First, he bought stolen credit card details on the Dark Web. Then he used them to make grocery purchases from online supermarket honestbee before selling the products on Carousell.

For making unauthorised transactions amounting to more than $20,000, undergraduate John Foo Chi Yang was sentenced to 20 months' jail on Thursday (May 16).

Foo, 27, had earlier pleaded guilty to 20 charges of credit card fraud. Forty-eight more charges of a similar nature and two charges of obtaining or retaining hacking tools for criminal purposes were taken into consideration in sentencing.

In May 2017, Foo downloaded the Onion Router browser to surf the Internet anonymously, and used it to access websites on the Dark Web - a part of the Internet that is not open to public view and is known for its trade in illegal goods such as drugs.

He then searched for credit card details and when he came across a website that sold stolen credit card details, he created an account using a random e-mail address.

With the account, he bought stolen credit card details of individuals from around the world for between US$25 and $35 (S$33 and S$47) using cryptocurrency Bitcoin - a form of digital currency that can be transferred between parties without intermediaries such as banks, resulting in anonymous transactions.

Foo also bought stolen credit card details on other online communication platforms, such as Microsoft Network or MSN, from a Russian individual for about US$100.

During these instances, Foo was aware that the credit card details were obtained using illegal means such as phishing and the use of malware, Deputy Public Prosecutor Thiagesh Sukumaran told the court.

Using the stolen credit card details, Foo made fraudulent credit card transactions on online grocery store honestbee, buying items including formulated milk powder, candy and health supplements.

Foo was arrested in October 2017, two months after he first began committing the offences.

In calling for a jail sentence of 24 months, the DPP said Foo made "conscious and deliberate" moves to remain undetected for his crimes, displaying an "extremely high degree of planning and premeditation".

To conceal his identity, he wore a surgical mask when receiving the items from the delivery persons, the DPP added.

Foo also bought "underground" SIM cards registered with passports belonging to foreigners who already left Singapore, which he used to register honestbee accounts.

The DPP also noted that Foo used elaborate and sophisticated methods to carry out his crimes, and was persistent in his offences.

In mitigation, Foo's defence lawyer Josephus Tan from Invictus Law Corporation called for a jail sentence of not more than 15 months.

Mr Tan noted his client was remorseful and cooperative during police investigations, and had made full restitution of the $20,899.46 from the fraudulent transactions.

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