Man jailed for taking $8,000 after guessing PIN of lost ATM card

Wan Ting Koh
·3-min read
Customers drawing money from DBS ATM machines
Customers drawing money from DBS ATM machines. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — After finding a lost debit card in an ATM, a man decided to try his luck at the card’s PIN and guessed it correctly on his third attempt.

Yap Yi San, 39, then withdrew $8,000 from the account, intending to pay off some debts.

Yap, a storeman, was jailed for nine weeks on Wednesday (18 November) after he pleaded guilty to one count of dishonest misappropriation of the bank card and two counts of theft. Another two similar charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.

On 2 April this year, at about 7.50pm, the 46-year-old victim used the bank card at a DBS ATM machine in Toa Payoh to make a bank transfer but forgot to take his card back after he was done.

Shortly after, Yap also used this ATM machine and noticed a beeping sound. He saw the victim’s bank card in the card slot and took it out to keep in his back pocket. He then used the ATM machine with his own card before leaving.

At around 8.05pm, Yap walked to another DBS ATM machine at Toa Payoh to use the stolen bank card.

He tried to guess the PIN number twice without success but got the correct PIN number – “888888” – on his third try. Yap then saw that the victim had $18,000 in his bank account. He withdrew $2,000 and left as there was a long queue behind him.

He decided to head to another DBS ATM machine and withdrew a total of $8,000 over that same day and the next.

At about 1.33am the next day, the victim made a police report stating that he forgot to take his bank card and that there were a few unauthorised transactions made through his account.

Yap has since restituted the full sum to the victim.

Humble background, not academically inclined: mitigation

Addressing the court, Yap’s lawyer Marshall Lim said that his client came from a humble background and has a condition which made him tongue-tied. This affected his speech.

Yap was also not academically inclined and worked after primary school, Lim said.

Lim pointed out that Yap’s offence was clearly opportunistic and the period of offending was only about four hours.

The defence sought nine weeks’ jail for Yap, while the prosecution sought 10 weeks.

Last year, Yap had been sentenced to eight weeks’ jail for stealing a handphone from a warehouse he worked at.

In sentencing Yap, District Judge Marvin Bay noted that restitution had been made.

He said, “I am also mindful of the opportunistic nature of the offending, with the card being encountered by pure chance when it was left unattended in the ATM machine and also the fact that the personal identification number had comprised a series of six eights, and thus been easily cracked on his third attempt.”

The judge added that the sentence should act as a sufficient deterrent to dissuade others who may be tempted to try their luck in the same manner.

For theft, Yap could have been jailed up to three years, or fined, or both. For dishonest misappropriation of property, he could have been jailed up to two years, or fined, or both.

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