SINGAPORE - A man admitted in court on Thursday (Jan 24) that he had collected cash for an international syndicate behind a ruse that duped a retiree into handing over more than $5 million.
In November 2017, Malaysian Looi Yu Chong collected over $1 million from the Singaporean woman who was swindled in a police impersonation scam.
Others connected to the syndicate took the remaining amount. Looi, 21, pleaded guilty in court on Thursday to one count of dealing with the benefits of criminal activities totalling more than $655,000.
A second similar charge involving $500,000 will be taken into consideration during sentencing.
The court was told that on Nov 7, 2017, the woman received a phone call from someone purportedly from "Chinatown police station" who introduced herself as Yang Hai Ping. Yang told the retiree that she was a suspect in a "criminal case". The victim was given a so-called case number.
The call was then transferred to a man, Lei Ping, and he directed the retiree to a fake Singapore police website which the syndicate had created.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Suhas Malhotra said that when the woman keyed in her "case number" on the fake website, she saw a "warrant" for her arrest on suspicion of money laundering.
Lei Ping then told the retiree that her case would be handled by a "chief police officer" known as Chen Kan. About four minutes later, she received a phone call from Chen Kan, who told her that the investigation would last seven days and that she would eventually be given documents to sign stating that she was "not guilty".
Chen Kan also told her to give him the details of her bank accounts and she complied.
After this, on 11 occasions, he told her to make withdrawals from her accounts and deliver the cash to different people who were purportedly from the Chinese government.
He also told her that by handing over the money, she would be assisting the police in a money laundering investigation.
The retiree complied out of fear and handed the money to different people including a 58-year-old sales promoter, a Singaporean woman who was also duped by the syndicate. She was told that she too was suspected of being involved in criminal activities. Syndicate members told the sales promoter that to assist in investigations, she had to collect cash from strangers and deliver it to others.
DPP Malhotra said that Looi, who was recruited in Malaysia by his secondary school friend known as Goh Kok Keong, received more than $1 million of the retiree's money from the sales promoter in Singapore on Nov 16 and 17, 2017.
He came to Singapore with one Khoo Chun Hean before returning to Malaysia. Looi, who received RM1,500 ($493) for his role in the scam, was arrested by officers from the Royal Malaysian Police on Jan 16 last year.
Khoo and Goh are still at large. Looi is expected to be sentenced on Friday (Jan 25).