Man Used Friend’s $25,000 Bitcoin Investment To Trick Woman Into Failed Money Exchange Scam

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SINGAPORE: In order to commit a money exchange scam, a man used his friend’s 25,000 Singapore dollars for bitcoin investment and enlisted other friends to trick a woman out of 400,000 yuan (80,700 Singapore dollars).

However, his friends failed in the scam when they tried to escape by bus and the victim caught up with them in a taxi.

When police were investigating, Lincoln Poh Chong Tee turned off his phone and hid it in a shoe cabinet outside his home, knowing it contained incriminating evidence.

And in another incident, he took a knife to confront a man who was drinking with his girlfriend and was eventually remanded in May this year.

For his crimes, Poh, 26, was sentenced to one year in prison on Thursday, September 15.

He pleaded guilty to five counts of conspiracy to cheat, obstruction of justice, dishonest embezzlement, unlawful possession of a weapon and aiding and abetting unauthorized database access. of the Singapore police.

The court heard that Poh hatched a conspiracy with his friend Wang Yu Chi around October 2020 to scam others through a bogus currency exchange service.

They planned to make the victim transfer money to them and lie to the victim telling him that he had not received the money. After that, they intended to promise a refund and reverse the transaction but keep the victim’s foreign currency.

Wang convinced a 33-year-old woman to exchange 150,000 Singapore dollars for yuan. Poh’s role was to prepare S$150,000 in cash as a prop, but he never intended to hand over the cash to the client. The sum included his own savings, contributions from his girlfriend and sums of money that his friends had entrusted to him to invest in Bitcoin.

Poh was to get 20% of the winnings from the scam, or around S$30,000. He also called on other friends to help him.

On October 21, 2020, two of Poh’s friends who agreed to participate in the scam went to meet the victim at Claymore Road. The victim was with her husband and counted the S$150,000 money the scammers had brought with them.

After counting it, she transferred 400,000 yuan – about half of the agreed total amount – to two bank accounts, as instructed. Wanting to guarantee that the exchange would go through, the victim demanded the cash equivalent of 400,000 yuan.

THE VICTIM CAUGHT BY SCAMPER

The scammers did not want to hand over any money and asked the victim to transfer the other half of the sum, but she refused. The crooks then attempted to flee on a bus, but the victim boarded a Grab taxi and caught up to them.

Her husband called the police, who arrested Poh’s two friends and seized the S$150,000 in cash. Poh and Wang were identified through police investigations and subsequently arrested.

Prior to his arrest, Poh turned off and hid his phone in a shoe cabinet outside his family home, knowing the device contained incriminating evidence.

He lied to the police several times saying he had lost his phone. He later changed his lie by saying that he gave the phone to his girlfriend and police conducted an unnecessary search of his room.

It wasn’t until early November 2020 that Poh admitted he lied and hid the phone outside his house.

The S$150,000 he had consisted of various sums, including money that Poh’s friends had entrusted to him to invest in Bitcoin.

UNAUTHORIZED SCREENING BY A POLICE OFFICER

One such friend was Bryan Tay Wei Chuan, 29, a Singapore Police Ground Response Force officer at Sembawang Ward Police Center, with the rank of Sergeant Grade 2.

He met Poh while vacationing in Vietnam, and the couple became friends and traveled together.

After returning to Singapore, they kept in touch and visited spas together.

In March 2020, Poh texted Tay and asked her to help him with something. He passed Tay the NRIC number belonging to his friend Wang and asked him to check if there was an ongoing case.

Poh told Tay that Wang had been falsely implicated in an ongoing investigation. Tay told him he’d be in trouble if he was caught performing an unauthorized projection, but Poh kept asking him to do it.

About a week later, Tay was on duty at the Sembawang Neighborhood Police Center when he saw that there was no one else around. He checked Wang’s NRIC number and sent Wang’s criminal record check to Poh via WhatsApp.

Poh asked Tay to perform another screening in April 2020, but Tay refused, saying there were recordings of such screenings and he would get caught.

Poh tried again in July 2020, asking Tay to check if Wang was wanted by authorities so he could determine if he could return to Singapore. Tay refused, saying he dared not check anymore.

Sometime in September 2020, Poh told Tay he had a profitable opportunity in Bitcoin and promised him profits.

Convinced after Poh showed him rising bitcoin prices and Google searches for bitcoin, Tay transferred Poh S$25,000 for investment.

Instead of investing it in Tay’s name, Poh used the sum as part of the ‘incidental’ money of S$150,000 for the money exchange scam.

In November 2020, a police officer filed a report into Tay’s unauthorized filtering of Wang’s NRIC number, saying it was discovered by investigations against Poh.

While investigations were ongoing for the above crimes, Poh took a knife to confront a man who was drinking with his girlfriend.

Poh had been drinking in May 2022 when he called his girlfriend, who was at a bar. Poh heard male voices on the phone and became agitated. He started to argue with his girlfriend, and a man who was with his girlfriend yelled at Poh on the phone, telling her not to “act big”.

Drunk on a bottle of Martell liquor, Poh retrieved a knife from his home and headed to Prinsep Street where he confronted his girlfriend and the man with her.

Poh chased the man down Prinsep Street with the knife in hand but was eventually stopped by his girlfriend. Before arriving home, Poh threw the knife into the Rochor Canal, fearing he would get in trouble for possessing a knife.

He was taken into custody the same month. His accomplice Wang is based in Vietnam and remains at large, while the two friends who helped him in the scam were sentenced to two months in prison earlier this year for their roles.

The prosecutor asked for a year in prison for Poh, saying he was significantly involved in planning and coordinating the scam, even though Wang was the mastermind.


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