Two Taiwanese men who flew to Singapore to act as money mules in police impersonation scams were jailed on Tuesday (4 September).
Chen You-Jeng, 34, was jailed for three years while Hsieh Teng-Chia, 31, was jailed for two years and nine months. The duo, who were working for a transnational syndicate, had pleaded guilty to one count of assisting another to retain benefits from criminal conduct.
They were involved in cheating five victims, aged 51 to 83, of a total of $185,000.
In June, another Taiwanese member of the syndicate, 52-year-old Huang Ying-Chun, was jailed six and a half years for his role in the scams.
Started over drinks
Early last year, Chen and Hsieh met over drinks in Taiwan. When Hsieh told Chen that he was short on cash, Chen recruited Hsieh to act as a middleman in Singapore to collect and handover money.
Hsieh was promised NTD 75,000 (S$3,300) for a month’s work and Hsieh agreed to the do the job. Chen had also been promised NTD59,500 for recruiting Hsieh.
On 5 July last year, Hsieh arrived in Singapore with Chen. The duo met with another co-accused, Chen Peng-Yu, a 35-year-old Taiwanese man. Chen Peng-Yu then provided Hsieh with instructions to collect and handover the monies.
Over the next few days, Hsieh and Chen would travel to various parts of Singapore to collect the money obtained from scam victims. Hsieh collected and handed over a total of $185,000.
During the police impersonation scams, victims would receive phone calls from persons who claimed they were officers from Singapore or China. The callers convinced the victims that they were involved in money laundering cases or other serious crimes.
The victims and other involved parties were also told that their bank accounts or bank cards had been implicated in these offences and that they would be prosecuted unless they cooperated with the callers.
These victims were then conned into providing their bank account details, which enabled the callers to transfer money out of the victims’ accounts without their knowledge.
In the three cases, the victims’ funds were transferred to other unwitting victims before they were finally obtained by the scammers.
District Judge Salina Ishak, who passed the duo’s sentences, said that general deterrence was the main sentencing principle due to the “increasing prevalence” of such offences. The syndicated nature of the offences also caused much public disquiet, she added.
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