Five Malaysian men linked to S$1.4m scam syndicate charged with conspiring to cheat

SINGAPORE: Five Malaysian men believed to be from a transnational scam syndicate targeting Singaporeans in fake friend call scams were charged in court on Wednesday (Jan 24).

The men, aged between 19 and 36, were extradited to Singapore a day earlier, following a raid of two apartments in Johor Bahru by Malaysian police.

The accused are: Loh Chuan Sheng, 35, Kek Yuan Chun, 19, Heng Guo Hao, 25, Yee Kong Yao, 36, and Chua Zi Huang, 23.

They huddled together in handcuffs, looking sullen, when they appeared in court via video-link from their place of remand.

The men were handed one charge each of being part of a criminal conspiracy with each other and “others unknown” to cheat people residing in Singapore.

They allegedly deceived the victims into believing that they were communicating with people they knew over the phone, and induced them into making PayNow bank transfers to third parties.

According to charge sheets, the alleged offences took place “in Singapore and elsewhere” in January 2024.

The prosecution said the men are believed to be “involved in a syndicated offence” and asked for them to be remanded with permission to take them out for investigations.

According to a police statement, the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) of the Singapore Police Force (SPF) and the Johor Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) of the Royal Malaysia Police shared information with each other on fake friend call scams.

This was after more than 6,300 victims fell prey to such scams and lost at least S$21.1 million (US$15.7 million) in total from January to November last year.

The collaboration culminated in a joint raid on Jan 16, where Malaysian police raided two apartments in Johor and arrested the five suspects.

Preliminary investigations suggest that the syndicate began its fake friend scam operations in June 2023.

The syndicate is believed to be involved in cases where more than 500 reports were made involving losses of more than S$1.4 million.

If convicted of conspiring to cheat, the men can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

They will return to court on Jan 31.

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