25 drivers caught for smuggling cigarettes in 2018 after being lured by online ads

Duty-unpaid cigarettes in modified compartments of a vehicle. (PHOTOS: Singapore Customs)

Twenty-five drivers who were lured into smuggling duty-unpaid cigarettes by online advertisements were arrested last year.

They were sentenced to jail terms of between 10 weeks and six months each, said Singapore Customs in a media release on Thursday (7 February). In addition, they had their vehicles – including cars and vans – seized by the authorities.

The ads, placed on social media platforms such as Facebook and WeChat, promised payments of between $100 and $600 for every smuggling trip.

Responded to Facebook ad

Screenshot of a Facebook ad recruiting drivers for the smuggling of duty-unpaid cigarettes from Malaysia into Singapore.

In one such case, Singaporean Law Hwa Peng, 45, had responded to a Facebook ad and was offered $400 to make a smuggling run.

He was provided a car and drove into Malaysia for duty-unpaid cigarettes to be loaded into various modified compartments of the vehicle.

But he was arrested at Woodlands Checkpoint on 16 November last year.

A total of 144 cartons and 1,143 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes were found in the car, which was seized. The duty and Goods and Services Tax (GST) evaded amounted to about $22,050 and $1,610 respectively.

Law was jailed for 20 weeks on 21 January.

Duty-unpaid cigarettes found inside a modified compartment of a vehicle. (PHOTO: Singapore Customs)

In another case, Malaysian Ku Kai Chien, 25, drove his own van into Malaysia for a syndicate to load duty-unpaid cigarettes into his vehicle.

He was to be paid $400 for the smuggling run.

But Ku was arrested at Tuas Checkpoint on 21 March last year.

A total of 201 cartons and 790 packets of duty-unpaid cigarettes were found in the van, which was seized. The duty and GST evaded amounted to about $23,910 and $1,750 respectively.

Ku was jailed for six months on 9 July last year.

Vehicles liable to be forfeited

Duty-unpaid cigarettes found in modified compartments of a vehicle. (PHOTO: Singapore Customs)

Under the Customs Act and the GST Act, buying, selling, conveying, delivering, storing, keeping, possessing and dealing with duty-unpaid goods are offences.

Offenders face up to 40 times the amount of duty and GST evaded, along with up to six years’ jail.

Vehicles used in the commission of the offences can also be forfeited.

Members of the public with information on smuggling activities, or evasion of Customs duty or GST can contact Singapore Customs via 1800-2330000, customs_intelligence@customs.gov.sg or the Customs@SG mobile app.

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