Trio charged over payment ruse involving GrabHitch

Three men were taken to court yesterday accused of being the masterminds of a syndicated payment fraud involving Grab's carpooling service GrabHitch.

Ryan Wong Wei Zhi, 19, Chua Wei Beng, 21, and Kenneth Ho Hong Wei, 22, were each charged with one count of cheating.

From March this year until last month, the trio allegedly worked together to cheat Grab Holdings by making 314 fraudulent transactions, resulting in a payment of $5,653.

Court documents did not reveal how the ruse was carried out.

Police said in a statement on Tuesday evening that between February and April this year, Grab detected at least 13 driver accounts with more than 2,000 fraudulent transactions amounting to more than $41,800 in losses.

Through follow-up investigations, officers from the Commercial Affairs Department managed to establish the suspects' identities.

Nine men and a woman aged between 19 and 29 were later arrested in an islandwide operation on Monday.

Another three men and a woman are now assisting officers with their investigations.

Officers had also seized mobile phones, debit cards and a thumbdrive as case exhibits.

In a statement yesterday, Grab said it detected irregular activities on its GrabHitch platform in February and made a police report.

 

Its spokesman added: "We take fraud seriously and have worked closely with the police on this matter. Providing a safe and secure platform for our users, driver-partners and merchants is a top priority for us, and we will continue to invest in technologies to fight fraud and safeguard our platform."

Yesterday, the court heard that Chua intends to plead guilty to his offence, and will be back in court on May 31. The cases involving his two alleged accomplices have been adjourned until June 12. The trio were offered bail of $15,000 each.

Those who are convicted of cheating can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 16, 2019, with the headline 'Trio charged over payment ruse involving GrabHitch'. Print Edition | Subscribe