Jail for man who helped childhood friend cheat scam victims, used bank accounts to funnel


In relation to other ill-gotten gains, sometime in November 2018, Lai gave Phua an ATM card and pin number to an OCBC account which belonged to a third party.

Lai then instructed Phua to make multiple withdrawals over a few days and to “withdraw as much money as possible”, said DPP Ong.

In total, Phua withdrew S$40,000 in cash from various OCBC ATM machines across 40 occasions between Nov 11 and Nov 20, 2018.

DELETING EVIDENCE

Investigations into a scam case revealed that Phua had also been involved in assisting scammers to collect two envelopes containing S$300,000 in cash.

On Nov 2, 2020, Phua had got his acquaintance Levine Tan to meet with Lau Yong Keng to collect two envelopes with the money inside.

DPP Ong said that earlier in the day, Phua had told Tan the time and location to meet with Lau along with instructions to produce a specific S$10 note for verification.

These two envelopes were collected by Phua that afternoon. Court documents did not disclose what happened to the money.

Two days later, Tan called Phua to tell him about a visit from officers from the Commercial Affairs Department.

Intending to prevent the police from reviewing the messages between them, Phua instructed Tan to delete their WhatsApp conversation.

This relates to the charge of obstructing the course of justice.

DRIVING WHILE DISQUALIFIED

On the morning of Mar 2 last year, Phua was driving his van at the junction of MacPherson Road and Jalan Belangkas when he tried to make an unauthorised U-turn.

Traffic police senior staff sergeant Noor Azhar Zuhri spotted Phua making the U-turn and told him to stop his vehicle, and provide his personal details.

It was then discovered that Phua had previously been convicted of two traffic offences and was disqualified from driving for a period of 48 months from Jun 10, 2019 to Jun 9, 2023, said DPP Ong.

As he was under the disqualification order, Phua’s van also did not have a valid insurance, which is a requirement under the Motor Vehicles Act.

“OFFENCES WERE PLANNED AND PREMEDITATED”

In seeking a jail term of between 22 and 30 months, DPP Tan Pei Wei told the court that the offences under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and other Serious Crimes Act were planned and premeditated.

She also argued that these offences were not “one-off” as they were committed over the course of multiple days, which spanned about two and a half weeks.

DPP Tan added that even though Phua suspected that his friend was dealing with money obtained from scams, he still played an active role in the scheme by facilitating the dissipation of criminal proceeds between his bank accounts and withdrawing them in cash.

For each charge of acquiring another person’s benefits from criminal conduct, Phua could have been jailed for up to 10 years or fined up to S$500,000, or both.

For obstructing the course of justice, he could have been jailed for up to seven years or fined, or both.

For driving while under a disqualification order, he could have been jailed for up to three years or fined up to S$10,000, or both.

For driving a vehicle without insurance, he could have been jailed for up to three months or fined S$1,000, or both.

This article was originally published in TODAY. 



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