A man who used stolen credit card details to top up more than $10,000 in EZ-Link cards and then obtain cash refunds from MRT station counters was sentenced to five years of corrective training on Thursday (20 September).
Singaporean Mohammed Faizal Zhairudin, 42, was arrested and investigated for his offences in 2012 but absconded while on police bail, fleeing to Pulau Ubin before later making his way to Malaysia where he avoided being caught for four years.
He was arrested by Royal Malaysian Police and repatriated to Singapore on 1 September 2016.
For his offences, Faizal was slapped with a total of 275 charges, including unauthorised access to computers for the purpose of topping up EZ-Link cards, forgery for the purpose of cheating, misappropriation of property and failing to present passport to an Immigration Officer for examination at an authorised point of departure.
Out of all his charges, he pleaded guilty to 23 counts on 29 August, with the rest being taken into consideration for sentencing.
According to the prosecution, Faizal collaborated with a man whom he met in prison, 45-year-old Mohamed Sufian Mohamed Sabri, to commit the offences. Sufian used his job as a bartender to obtain credit card details from customers at the restaurant he worked at, and Faizal would give him $30 for each occasion he provided card details.
Sufian has since been sentenced to seven years’ jail and three strokes of the cane for his role in the offences.
To commit his offences, Faizal bought 40 EZ-Link cards and a card reader, which he connected to his laptop. Between February and March 2010, he would access the EZ-Link online portal and credit $50 to the EZ-Link cards fives times on each day, repeating until the credit card was declined.
To avoid detection, he performed the online top-ups in cyber cafes and McDonald’s outlets. After topping up the EZ-Link cards, Faizal would go to MRT station controls to ask for the cash in cards to be refunded. He gained a total of $13,110 through the scheme.
Apart from the EZ-Link card scheme, Faizal had also fraudulently applied for credit cards twice in 2012, using the personal details of another man he met in prison to fill out a credit card application form for ANZ Bank. The latter had willingly revealed his NRIC details after Faizal told him he wanted to borrow money from a licensed moneylender.
After successfully applying for the credit card using the man’s details, Faizal used it for transactions amounting to $9,796.46 but failed to pay the card bills. His second application for a credit card was unsuccessful.
Faizal also stole a wallet containing $250, a cash card and an EZ-Link card from a woman at a petrol station at Punggol Central in January 2010. In total, he caused a loss of $23,156.46 to the involved parties.
The prosecution, represented by Deputy Public Prosecutor David Koh, asked for Faizal to be given corrective training as he was a “recalcitrant cheat with a long history of property-related
offending, dating back to 1993”.
Corrective training is a prison regime for repeat offenders that lasts between five to 14 years. Unlike a jail term, there is no one-third remission period for good behaviour.
Said DPP Koh: “Not only has (Faizal) been undeterred by significant prison sentences imposed on him in the past, but he has also escalated the seriousness and variety of his offences, in order to obtain cash and property worth a total of $23,156.46 for himself.”
He also noted that at least 30 victims had been involved in Faizal’s offences.
Faizal’s lawyer Barry Delaney asked for a five-year jail term instead, saying that Faizal has been “embracing religious and missionary work”. He added that corrective training would be “unduly harsh” on his client.
For the charge of unauthorised access to computer material, Faizal could have been jailed up to seven years and/or fined up to $50,000.
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