Woman jailed for taking $1m from employer and giving it to online ‘friend’

The woman transferred the money to a male friend she had befriended on Facebook. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - A finance executive misappropriated US$774,500 (S$1.03 million) from her employer and transferred the money to a male “friend” she had got to know on Facebook.

Tan Chen Nee, 46, was jailed for three years on Friday after she pleaded guilty to one count of criminal breach of trust.

Deputy Public Prosecutor V. Jesudevan said: “She claims that she had transferred these monies to ‘Kelvin Smith Gordon’ who apparently needed the monies to pay for an investment project known as ‘Ayaland’.

“She knew she should not have used the company’s monies, but did so anyway so that she did not have to ‘touch’ her own money.”

Tan committed the offence while she was working for Top Atlantic, which dealt with electronic parts. Her tasks included managing its financial administration matters, including preparing its accounts.

Between Feb 16, 2016, and Jan 17, 2017, Tan created 26 fictitious payment vouchers and deceived one of her superiors into approving them. This was to hide the fact that she was transferring monies to various bank accounts in the Philippines, Bangkok and Hong Kong.

The DPP said Tan’s superior approved these “expenditures” because he trusted her.

Defence lawyer Josephine Chee told the court that Tan later came clean about what she had done.

The lawyer also said her client was a scam victim who did not commit the offence out of greed or personal gain.

The police were alerted on Aug 10, 2017. Tan, who is no longer working for the company, has made restitution of more than US$53,400 so far.

On Wednesday, the police said scam victims in Singapore lost a total of $660.7 million in 2022, up from $632 million in 2021.

This means that almost $1.3 billion was lost to scams in the past two years.

To address the issue, the National Crime Prevention Council launched an anti-scam campaign on Jan 18, urging the public to “ACT” against scams.

The ACT acronym outlines how members of the public can Add security features, Check for signs, and Tell the authorities and others about scams.

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