Man pleads guilty to forgery charges after 21 years on the run

A Singaporean man charged with multiple counts of forgery to fraudulently obtain credit cards jumped bail in 1996 and fled to Malaysia. The cards were used to incur more than $34,000 in charges.

After 21 years on the run, Tan Say Wee, now 46, surrendered himself to the Singapore authorities on Aug 28 last year. He had found out his father had lung cancer and wanted to look after him.

Yesterday, Tan pleaded guilty to four counts each of committing forgery for the purpose of cheating and taking part in a conspiracy to commit such crimes.

The court heard that in early February 1996, Tan had in his possession a sales agreement for the purchase of a flat jointly owned by Mr Teo Choon Huat and Ms Teng Kin Leng. Tan also had a tenancy agreement between his mother and Ms Ang Swee Lian. Court papers did not mention how he got the documents, which contained information such as full names, NRIC numbers and signatures.

Tan's friend, William Chiah Wee Ming, now 46, suggested using the information to fraudulently apply for credit cards, and Tan agreed.

Tan forged letters of authorisation for Chiah to collect notices of assessment (NOA) from the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore on behalf of Mr Teo and Ms Teng. Tan also filled up a Hongkong Bank credit card application form in Mr Teo's name and signed it. The NOA and application form were submitted to the bank.

The bank later issued two credit cards bearing Mr Teo's name to Chiah, who used them to incur almost $22,000 in charges.

In March, the two menobtained credit cards bearing the names of Ms Teng and Ms Ang. Chiah again used the cards to incur charges totalling more than $12,000. He paid Tan $600 for providing him with the names of the three victims.

Deputy Public Prosecutor David Koh told the court: "(Tan) realised that he could also carry out such fraudulent applications for credit cards on his own. As such, he decided to use the name and particulars of his uncle, Tan Beng Hui, to apply for credit cards."

In August 1996, Tan and Chiahtried to obtain a Diners Club International card in Mr Teo's name. However, when the company contacted Mr Teo, he said his particulars had been used to apply for credit cards without his consent.

When Tan went to collect the card at Toa Payoh Central Post Office on Aug 30, a Diners Club employee, who had been waiting there, confronted him. Tan was arrested. While out on bail, he fled to Malaysia. He will be back in court on Jan 17. Chiah is still at large.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2018, with the headline 'Man pleads guilty to forgery charges after 21 years on the run'. Print Edition | Subscribe