Man who cheated victims of $400 in VTL bus ticket scam gets 8 weeks' jail

A counter at Queen Street Bus Terminal selling tickets under the Malaysia-Singapore land VTL scheme in January. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - After taking nearly $400 from three people for bus tickets to Malaysia, Muhammad Solehudin Abu became uncontactable.

He had put up a listing on e-marketplace Carousell in February this year and deceived the victims into thinking he had Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) tickets available for sale.

The VTL between Singapore and Malaysia was launched in November last year and allowed people to travel between the two countries on designated bus services without having to serve quarantine.

After receiving payment from the victims, he disappeared and removed his listing from Carousell.

On Aug 16, Solehudin, 27, was sentenced to eight weeks' jail after pleading guilty to one count of cheating.

Two other similar charges were taken into consideration for his sentencing.

According to court documents, Solehudin had cheated three people of $195, $97.50 and $97 respectively.

The police received a report about the scam on Feb 19 this year. They established his identity through investigations and arrested him on March 3.

In a statement on Monday (Aug 22), the police advised members of the public to be careful when making online purchases.

"Opt for buyer protection by using in-built payment options that release payment to the seller only upon delivery. Whenever possible, avoid making advance payments or direct bank transfers to the seller," they said.

The police added that scammers may entice buyers to contact them directly through messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and WeChat by offering a better or faster deal if bank transfer payments are made directly to them.

"They may also use a local bank account or provide a copy of an NRIC or driver's licence to make you believe that they are genuine sellers. Do not fall for it."

In a similar case, a 25-year-old man was arrested in February this year for cheating two victims into paying $300 for a PlayStation 5.

He did not deliver the item and used the ill-gotten gains for his personal expenses.

The maximum penalty for cheating is a 10-year jail term and a fine.

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