Ex-UOB relationship manager conned illiterate man of more than $200,000

Yap Bin Chun pleaded guilty to four cheating charges and one count of forgery. He will be sentenced at a later date. (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)
Yap Bin Chun pleaded guilty to four cheating charges and one count of forgery. He will be sentenced at a later date. (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

A former banker from United Overseas Bank (UOB) took advantage of an elderly and illiterate client, siphoning off more than $200,000 of the latter’s savings for over a year, a court heard.

UOB later paid the victim, 68-year-old Ng Hock Seng, $223,522.61 as settlement for the losses incurred by its former errant employee Yap Bin Chun, after his crimes came to light.

To pay back UOB, Yap, 38, borrowed the sum from his girlfriend from Hong Kong, Betty Pui Tai, who lent him the money thinking that he wanted to marry her.

Unbeknownst to Pui, who is also 38, Yap is married with three children. They later broke up, but he still owes her $468,000 in total.

At the State Courts on Wednesday (23 January), Yap pleaded guilty to four cheating charges and one count of forgery.

Another four cheating charges will be taken into consideration for his sentencing, which is expected to be on 14 March.

Victim can’t read, write or understand English

The victim stopped schooling after Primary 5 and can’t read, write or understand English. Ng ran a mini-mart in Hougang until September 2011, and then worked in several plantations in Malaysia thereafter, returning to Singapore for a day once every few weeks.

Yap worked for UOB for five years from May 2009 to May 2013, first as a senior personal banker and later as a relationship manager.

In 2010, Ng walked into a UOB branch to invest his savings, and Yap suggested that he do so in a unit trust. Ng signed on documents, trusting and relying on Yap to fill up the forms.

Around September 2011, Ng told Yap about his plans to relocate to Malaysia, and said he wanted to invest his savings of $150,000, which he planned to use to buy a house in Singapore in future.

Yap, who was in financial difficulty, hatched a plan to misappropriate the money for himself.

The errant banker got Ng to pre-sign blank forms, including for a debit card to be linked to Ng’s account, and for the card to be posted to Yap’s address. Ng, trusting Yap, also signed blank forms for redeeming his investment.

As a result of Yap’s deceit, the current account opened in Ng’s name was registered with Yap’s address. All bank statements for Ng’s account were mailed to Yap’s home.

Between November 2011 and March 2012, Yap made seven unauthorised redemptions of units in Ng’s fund. All he had to do was fill up and submit one of the blank forms Ng had earlier signed.

A total of $223,620.82 was deposited into the current account from its opening on 5 September 2011 to its closing on 22 June 2012. The sum included the seven unauthorised redemptions.

Between 3 October 2011 and 20 March 2012, Yap misappropriated $218,100 from the current account using the debit card. He withdrew $97,350 in cash and made ATM fund transfers totalling $120,750 to his personal UOB current account.

He blew the cash on miscellaneous expenses, spent on family and friends, and even bought a condo for $1.35 million with his brother, with Yap holding 99 per cent share of the property.

Yap closed Ng’s current account using another pre-signed form on 22 June 2012.

On 16 May 2013, shortly before he left his employment at UOB, Yap also changed Ng’s mailing address in the bank’s records back to Ng’s actual mailing address.

Cheated former girlfriend of $20,000

Yap’s crimes came to light on 24 February 2016, when Ng went to UOB to check on the status of his investment. He made a police report five days later.

UOB conducted internal investigations and uncovered Yap’s fraud. The bank paid Ng $223,522.61 a few months later as settlement for losses suffered.

Around the same time, Yap also paid UOB back the same amount. He got the money from Betty Pui Tai, a Hong Konger he met on an online-dating app. At the time, Yap was working in Hong Kong for Standard Chartered Bank. They were in a relationship from October 2015 to June 2017.

Yap lied to Betty that he was single when he had three children and a wife in Singapore. During their relationship, he informed her about his case and borrowed large sums of money from her. He still owes her $468,000.

He also cheated her of $20,000 in December 2016, by pretending that he needed the money to bail himself out. Believing him, she transferred him the equivalent sum in Hong Kong dollars.

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