Keppel Club phantom memberships: 1,341 people scammed of $37.5 million

(From left) Setho Oi Lin, Nah Hak Chuah and Ivy Cheo Soh Chin pleaded guilty to their roles in the Keppel Club fake membership scam.
(From left) Setho Oi Lin, Nah Hak Chuah and Ivy Cheo Soh Chin pleaded guilty to their roles in the Keppel Club fake membership scam.PHOTOS: ST FILE, WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - Three people have pleaded guilty to their roles in a scam in which 1,341 people were duped into paying a total of about $37.5 million for fake memberships at the Keppel Club.

They are: the general manager's personal assistant Setho Oi Lin, also known as Setho Irene, 70; supervisor at the membership department Nah Hak Chuah, 67, and club member Ivy Cheo Soh Chin, also 67, who is Setho's friend.

Their victims were deceived between June 1, 2004, and Aug 1, 2014.

The Business Times first reported the case in December 2014, stating that the Keppel Club, which is more than a century old, had been "rocked by a recent shocking discovery of 'phantom' memberships".

A well-placed source told The Straits Times then that a long-serving club employee - later found to be Setho - was suspected of having issued some 1,200 membership cards without crediting any of the transfer fees to the club.

It was understood that she was sacked in October 2014.

The trio were charged in court only late last year.

On Monday (Dec 4), Deputy Public Prosecutor Hon Yi said that Keppel Club ceased the sale of new transferable memberships in 1989. It also stopped the sale of new non-transferable memberships in 1997.

 

He said: "Since then, anyone who wishes to become a Keppel Club member has to purchase the membership from an existing member at a mutually agreed purchase price.

"The purchase price includes a fixed transfer fee of $12,000, plus prevailing GST rate, and an account activation fee ranging from $300 to $530 across the years, both to be paid to Keppel Club."

But the victims paid their fees to third parties and not to Keppel Club.

Investigations revealed that Setho, who was the mastermind, received at least $11 million of proceeds from her cheating offences.