Woman jailed for fake casino chip scam at MBS

Tang exchanged a total of 30 fake $1,000 chips for $30,000 on Nov 22 last year. She was jailed for seven months.
Tang exchanged a total of 30 fake $1,000 chips for $30,000 on Nov 22 last year. She was jailed for seven months.

They would exchange some counterfeit $1,000 casino chips for genuine ones of a smaller value, mix the real chips with additional fake ones and exchange the whole lot for cash at Marina Bay Sands (MBS).

To evade detection, the runners of the transnational syndicate were told not to cash in more than $5,000 worth of chips at a time.

MBS detected the scam only a week later and recalled all its $1,000 casino chips. It suffered losses of more than $1 million.

Yesterday, one of the runners, beautician Tang Shiwei, 26, who had conspired with her cousin and two men to pass the fake chips off as real, was jailed for seven months.

Tang, a Chinese national who is a Singapore permanent resident, exchanged a total of 30 pieces of fake $1,000 chips for $30,000 on Nov 22 last year. She got $600 in return.

The mother of two was one of the runners recruited by the syndicate to exchange more than a thousand $1,000 denominated casino chips at the casino in Bayfront Avenue that day.

She admitted to one of 12 charges of abetment in a conspiracy to use as genuine casino chips that she had reason to believe to be fake.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Zhongshan said runners were told to first exchange a few counterfeit chips at gaming tables for genuine ones of smaller denominations, mix the real chips with the remaining fake ones before exchanging them for cash at the cashiers' counters.

Each would then hand the cash to the recruiter, and receive a sum of money as a reward.

In early November last year, Toh Hock Thiam, 54, asked Chia Wai Tien, 47, to recruit people to exchange counterfeit casino chips at the MBS casino.

Chia's girlfriend and Tang's cousin, Fang Chao, 40, told Tang that Toh was unable to enter the casino and needed someone to help exchange the chips, in return for a commission.

Tang agreed to help.

On Nov 22, Chia took the two women and two others to MBS and handed a bag containing 20 fake $1,000 MBS chips to each of them.

Although Tang had reason to believe that the chips were not genuine, she exchanged some counterfeit chips for those of smaller denominations, mixed them together and cashed out the lot at different counters.

After exchanging all 20 fake chips in her bag, she handed over $19,600 to Fang after deducting $400 as her reward.

Subsequently, she received another 10 fake $1,000 chips and exchanged them for cash. She kept $200 and handed over $9,800 to Fang.

The case against Fang, Chia and Toh is pending.

Tang, represented by Mr Sunil Sudheesan, cried when her lawyer was mitigating on her behalf and seeking the court's mercy.

She could have been fined up to $150,000 and/or jailed for up to seven years for the offence.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 02, 2016, with the headline Woman jailed for fake casino chip scam at MBS. Subscribe