Reformative training for man linked to phishing scams involving OCBC customers

The offender pleaded guilty in December 2022 to seven charges. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE – A 20-year-old man was ordered on Tuesday to undergo reformative training for at least a year over offences including money laundering-related activities linked to phishing scams involving OCBC Bank customers.

He will be detained in a centre to follow a strict regimen that can include foot drills and counselling.

He was one of seven youth charged in February 2022 over their alleged involvement in the scams, which led to victims losing some $12.8 million.

The offender pleaded guilty in December 2022 to seven charges, including one count each of driving a car without a licence and allowing others to control bank accounts despite having reasonable grounds to believe that these would be used to handle benefits of criminal conduct.

He also admitted to two counts of robbery.

He cannot be named as he was below 18 when he committed some of his offences. Such individuals are covered under the Children and Young Persons Act.

Others linked to the scams, including Mark Teo Sin Yan, 32, and Leong Jun Xian, then 21, were dealt with in court earlier.

The cases involving several others, including Kong Jia Quan and Muhammad Khairuddin Eskandariah, both 20, are pending.

The offender who was ordered to undergo reformative training on Tuesday was just 17 in June 2020 when he started his crime spree.

He used another person’s debit card to buy items including two packets of cigarettes worth $28.40.

He later became a member of a group linked to the phishing scams.

In earlier court proceedings, Deputy Public Prosecutor Teo Siu Ming said: “The accused and co-accused persons had worked together as a group to provide money laundering services to various unknown persons believed to be linked to overseas syndicates, by sourcing and providing control of bank accounts to these unknown persons.

“Some of these bank accounts were subsequently used to receive and dissipate funds from victims of the... phishing scams, while other bank accounts were used to receive and dissipate funds from victims of other scams.”

The syndicates also told the group to withdraw cash from automated teller machines (ATMs).

The group received instructions from the unknown people, and provided the account credentials of the bank accounts they obtained for the syndicates.

They used three chat groups on messaging platform Telegram to communicate with one another.

DPP Teo earlier told the court: “(The offender) withdrew cash from ATMs on the instructions of Jun Xian and Jia Quan. He provided bank accounts belonging to (a friend) to one ‘William’, who is known to the group as the syndicate leader in the K2 group chat.

“He was promised by Jun Xian and Jia Quan a salary of $1,500 a month as well as commission. He was paid about $2,000.”

The offender obtained two bank accounts from his friend and provided the details to the syndicate.

The accounts were later used to receive $85,220 from 10 victims of the phishing scams involving OCBC customers.

In all, the group provided at least 16 bank accounts to the syndicates in the Telegram group chats between December 2021 and February 2022, receiving nearly $600,000 from different scams, including those involving OCBC customers.

Between Dec 8, 2021, and Jan 19, 2022, the police received 768 reports from OCBC bank account holders who had fallen prey to phishing scams.

OCBC said in January 2022 that it had made full goodwill payouts to all victims.

Separately, the offender was also part of a group that confronted a 20-year-old man in Simei on May 17, 2021.

The victim was robbed of nearly $1,500 in cash and valuables before he was told to strip naked.

One of the offender’s accomplices recorded two videos of the victim in the nude.

On June 6, 2022, the offender robbed a 16-year-old boy of jewellery worth more than $6,000 near Central Mall in Magazine Road.

He committed this second robbery while he was out on bail.

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