Man jailed for cheating woman of $80,000 in money exchange scam

SINGAPORE - As part of a money exchange scam in October 2020, two men tricked a woman into transferring 400,000 yuan (about S$80,000) after showing her the equivalent amount in Singapore dollars.

Instead of exchanging the money, the pair then fled on a bus, as the victim and her husband gave chase in a taxi and caught up with them.

On Monday (May 23), one of the men, Lin Wei Keong, 25, was sentenced to two months' jail for cheating Ms Lin Chun Yan of $80,000.

Lin was accused along with three others - Zhu Yu, 27, and childhood friends Lincoln Poh Chong Tee, 25, and Kelvin Yap Qi Hao, 25, the court heard.

Investigations revealed that Poh and Zhu were acquainted with an individual identified only as Raymond, who also used the nickname "Jasper".

He is based in Vietnam and is at large, Deputy Public Prosecutor Jonathan Tan told the court.

As part of a money exchange service scam that was hatched before October 2020, Raymond would search for customers who needed to exchange Chinese currency for Singapore dollars (SGD) and arrange for them to meet Poh.

Once a victim transfers money to the scammers, they would lie that the transfer did not go through and abort the deal, said DPP Tan.

When Ms Lin Chun Yan, 33, was contacted by Raymond on WeChat, she agreed to exchange yuan for S$150,000.

As proof of funds, Poh prepared the amount in SGD from his own savings, contributions from his girlfriend and friends who entrusted to him to invest in Bitcoin.

The prosecutor said: "However, the cash was to be used as a prop, and they never intended to hand the cash over to the customer."

Raymond promised a $30,000 cut of the intended gains to Poh, who roped in Yap and Lin Wei Keong, offering them $5,000 each.

They were to show the money to the victim to convince her to transfer her money.

They were also warned not to hand over any money to her and rehearsed some excuses in advance.

On Oct 21, 2020, Yap and Lin went to a location near Orchard Road and met Zhu, who was tasked with coordinating the meeting with Ms Lin Chun Yan.

Ms Lin Chun Yan, who was with her husband, was convinced by the money shown to her and transferred 400,000 yuan - roughly half of the agreed amount - in six transactions.

When Yap and Lin Wei Keong demanded the full sum, she told them to hand over the equivalent in SGD of the amount she had transferred.

The duo then ran off and hopped on a bus to escape.

The court heard that the couple caught up with Yap and Lin Wei Keong in a taxi and called the police, who arrested the duo and seized their cash.

In his submissions, DPP Tan, who sought two months' jail for Lin Wei Keong, noted that while the harm done was slight, he had hoped to profit from the scam.

Seeking a sentence for Lin Wei Keong to match Yap's earlier sentence of two months' jail, defence lawyer Cory Wong and Josiah Zee of Invictus Law Corporation said in mitigation that Lin Wei Keong is a filial son who provides for his family as a food delivery rider.

District Judge Jasvender Kaur backdated Lin Wei Keong's jail term to Oct 21, 2020.

Those found guilty of cheating can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

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