SINGAPORE - A man who agreed to assist an alleged accomplice in obtaining a bank account to receive $10,000 in ill-gotten gains approached another friend in turn for help to do so.
After receiving the $10,000, Kshan Pillai Ganesan Pillai's friend, Rufus Rakesh Kumar Kalaiselvan, now 19, decided to keep the money for himself instead.
Pillai, a 22-year-old Singaporean, was on Monday (Sept 27) sentenced to 21 months' probation.
As part of his probation, the full-time national serviceman must remain indoors from 10pm to 6am every day and perform 60 hours of community service.
His parents were bonded for $5,000 to ensure his good behaviour.
Last month, Pillai pleaded guilty to one count each of dealing with the benefits of criminal conduct and instructing a man known as Emmanuel Raymond to give false information to a public servant.
Rufus pleaded guilty on Sept 17 to one count of criminal breach of trust and will be sentenced on Oct 25.
Emmanuel, 19, pleaded guilty in April to giving false information to a public servant. He was later sentenced to nine months' probation.
Cases involving two others, Ravivarthan, 20, and Mahendra Sakkaravarthi Samraj Ahsockan, 34, are still pending.
The court heard that a 77-year-old man, whose name has been redacted from court documents, had earlier received a phone call from an unknown scammer.
After giving the scammer his bank card details and one-time password, the senior citizen found that someone had made 15 unauthorised transactions on the card, leading to a total loss of $35,350.
The authorities later traced the transactions to Pillai, Rufus, Emmanuel, Ravivarthan and Mahendra.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Chong Kee En said that some time in late July last year, Mahendra asked Pillai if the younger man could help him procure a bank account to receive $10,000. Pillai was also offered a "commission" of about $2,000.
Despite knowing that the monies were unlawfully obtained, Pillai approached Rufus and asked for the teenager's help to funnel the cash back to them. The court, however, heard that Pillai did not know that the monies specifically came from scams.
Rufus, who was offered a $1,500 "commission", agreed to help Pillai.
The DPP said that Rufus and Ravivarthan then hatched a plan to keep the monies for themselves.
Rufus later received the $10,000. As his bank account had a withdrawal limit of $5,000, Rufus held on to $5,000 and recruited Emmanuel to receive the other half.
Rufus also told Pillai of this arrangement, the court heard.
DPP Chong said that Mahendra later became suspicious and accused Pillai of cheating him.
The prosecutor added: "(Pillai) began to get anxious. (He) called Emmanuel and threatened him by stating he knew where Emmanuel lived.
"Emmanuel then revealed he had indeed received $5,000 from Rufus... Emmanuel had held on to the money as he wanted to pay a fine for smoking."
Emmanuel withdrew the $5,000 on July 28 last year.
From the amount, Pillai gave Emmanuel $250 for the smoking fine. Pillai then kept $1,750 and gave the remaining $3,000 to Mahendra.
Pillai also told Emmanuel to lie if he were contacted by police officers.
He instructed Emmanuel to tell the officers that the $5,000 withdrawn was instead given to Rufus.
Meanwhile, the court heard that Ravivarthan decided to make off with the remaining $5,000 in Rufus' bank account.
He then hatched a plan to scam Rufus of the amount and persuaded the latter to transfer the monies to a "safer" bank account. It turned out that the account belonged to Ravivarthan's girlfriend.
Rufus transferred $4,900 to it and Ravivarthan then used most of the monies for his personal expenses.
The offenders' crimes came to light after the elderly victim's son made a police report in late July last year.
Pillai has since made $1,750 in restitution to the senior citizen.
Police managed to recover another $1,856 from the bank account belonging to Ravivarthan's girlfriend.
For dealing with the benefits of criminal conduct, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined up to $500,000.