Info@NationalCyberSecurity
Info@NationalCyberSecurity

Man thought he was dating Korean woman but really was helping scammer launder S$48,000, gets jail | #DatingScams | #LoveScams | #RomanceScans


SINGAPORE: After meeting a woman on Facebook who claimed to be a South Korean based overseas, a man began “dating” her and later allowed her to use his bank account for various transactions.

When the police told him his “girlfriend” was a scammer who was cheating others of their money, he initially complied with their instructions and accepted their warning, but later resumed talking to his girlfriend.

He even offered her his mother’s bank account for use, as he knew the police were monitoring his.

Chan Wing Onn, 54, was sentenced to 16 weeks’ jail on Wednesday (Mar 6).

The Singaporean pleaded guilty to one count of acquiring criminal proceeds from another person, with another three charges taken into consideration.

The court heard that Chan got to know a person on Facebook who called herself Soo Kim in 2021.

Soo Kim claimed that she was South Korean and working overseas. 

She began a romantic relationship with Chan, although the pair never met in real life.

Chan would use Facebook, WhatsApp and a Hangout application to communicate with Soo Kim.

In April and May 2022, Chan acquired a total of S$24,700 (US$18,410) that was sent to his bank accounts in multiple transactions.

He would transfer these sums to Soo Kim, or another contact that he believed was her father. He would do so by buying cryptocurrency or Apple iTunes cards, keeping S$400 for himself as commission.

POLICE WARN CHAN

In June 2022, the police investigated these transactions and warned Chan against helping Soo Kim receive and transfer money, because she was a scammer.

Chan acknowledged this. He was served a 24-month conditional warning in July 2022 and warned that he may be prosecuted for his conduct and any fresh offences.

Chan complied with various instructions and deleted his Facebook, Twitter, Tinder and Instagram applications, agreeing not to use them for two years.

He reported and blocked Soo Kim and the contact he believed was her father on WhatsApp and Telegram.

He also agreed to maintain only one bank account for the two-year period and not to let anyone else use it.

However, between July and August 2022, Chan reached out to Soo Kim again and resumed communicating with her.

Around August that year, Soo Kim told him that she had gotten into a car accident and needed money to pay her medical bills and government taxes.

She told Chan that she would be borrowing S$20,000 from a person called Nicholas Choo and needed a Singapore bank account to receive the money.

Chan offered Soo Kim the use of his mother’s bank account, which he had access to. He did not offer his own as he knew the police were monitoring his bank account.

Chan warned Soo Kim not to misuse his mother’s bank account as he did not want to get into “any further trouble”.

The scam victim, Mr Nicholas Choo, transferred a total of S$20,000 to Chan’s mother’s account in three transactions.

Chan then told Soo Kim to stop sending him money. However, he complied when she asked him to buy iTunes cards for her using the acquired sum.

He withdrew S$3,000 and bought iTunes cards for Soo Kim, sending her the details.

Mr Choo lodged a police report on Aug 13, 2022, saying he had transferred S$20,000 to a bank account at the request of someone he later suspected was a scammer.

The police froze Chan’s mother’s bank account and recovered the remaining S$17,000.

The prosecution sought four to five months’ jail for Chan, saying money laundering was a serious offence that helps international criminals obtain their ill-gotten gains.

Chan’s actions allowed a total of S$48,090 to be laundered and continued to offend despite being given a warning.

Chan was unrepresented. He had nothing to say in mitigation, initially submitting a pile of papers making general legal arguments, before saying he wanted to lodge an appeal.

He eventually rescinded his claims and was told to think about what he wanted to do with regard to an appeal after being sentenced.



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