Man charged over $915,000 scam involving N95 masks, protective gowns

The criminal proceeds recovered from Chee's residence. (PHOTO: Singapore Police Force)

SINGAPORE — A 35-year-old man has been charged over a scam that saw an overseas company being cheated of over $915,000 worth of N95 masks and protective gowns.

Chee Jian Rong, a Singaporean, is suspected of being involved in cheating and money-laundering offences related to the scam.

At the State Courts on Thursday (28 May), he was slapped with one count of cheating a person known as Anthony Bonacci.

Chee is said to have deceived Bonacci on 30 April into believing that he had for sale 150,000 units of level 2 personal protection gowns, worth US$502,500 (S$713,000) in total. This supposedly induced Bonacci to transfer US$251,250 into a UOB bank account as a deposit for the items.

On 21 May, the police were alerted to a case of an overseas distribution company being cheated of more than US$646,000 for the purchase of N95 masks and personal protection gowns from a local supplier – later found to be Chee.

The supplier became uncontactable after the overseas company transferred the monies to a local bank. The promised goods were also not delivered.

The Commercial Affairs Department established Chee’s identity and arrested him on Tuesday. Two watches and more than $81,000 in cash were seized.

According to preliminary investigations, Chee acquired the advance cash payments from the overseas distribution company and dissipated them to several local and overseas bank accounts.

The police’s Anti-Scam Centre, working together with banks DBS, OCBC and UOB, managed to recover more than $370,000 of the amount defrauded. Efforts to recover the remaining monies are ongoing.

If convicted of cheating, Chee may be jailed up to 10 years and fined.

According to a police news release, he will also be facing money-laundering charges under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act. The offence carries a fine not exceeding $500,000, a jail term of up to 10 years, or both.

Chee is currently being held in remand and will return to court on 4 June.

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