Man jailed over $800k debit card scam

A Malaysian was yesterday jailed for six months for his role in a thwarted debit card scam involving an $800,000 diamond ring.

Tuah Koo Tong, 46, who was found guilty on one count of abetting in the cheating case, had agreed to help Nyanapragasam V. T. George, 56, in his scheme.

George, who has already been dealt with and sentenced to seven months' jail, had hatched a plan to cheat shops using debit cards .

Unlike credit cards, customers using debit cards need to ensure they have sufficient funds in their accounts to offset purchases.

George, also a Malaysian, knew even with a fake approval code, a charge slip would still be generated in a store in the event of a manual or offline debit card transaction.

This would fool the retailer into thinking he had enough money and that the transaction was approved by the customer's bank.

George recruited Tuah through a friend and promised him a 10 per cent cut.

Tuah's role was to work with one Damayanti to find a diamond store. On Oct 4 last year, Tuah, George and Damayanti met at Lucky Plaza.

Tuah waited outside Moriya Diamond Boutique as the others went in and George tried to buy an $800,000 ring with a debit card from Indian bank ICICI, in the name of Mohamed Ayes.

For such transactions, the store should seek authorisation from its own and the customer's bank.

But George hoped to take advantage of the salesman's unfamiliarity with correct procedures and supply his own "approval code".

However, the salesman called the store's bank UOB, which told him that George might be plotting a scam and sent fraud investigators over.

When they arrived at the store, they discovered George had only about $300 on the debit card. They informed the police and George and Tuah were arrested.

Tuah, who has been in remand for over five months, was sentenced to six months' jail.

Details about Damayanti were not provided in court documents.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2018, with the headline 'Man jailed over $800k debit card scam'. Print Edition | Subscribe