SINGAPORE: A former grassroots volunteer was jailed eight years on Thursday (May 17) for committing various cheating, forgery and money laundering offences involving more than S$1.4 million.
Reichie Chng Teck Kiam, 51, also created fake WhatsApp conversations using the name of Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, to make his victims believe that the scheme they were investing in – a legal moneylending business promising monthly returns of 3 to 8 per cent – was legitimate.
Chng pleaded guilty to 30 charges for offences including cheating, committing forgery to cheat others, money laundering and obtaining a personal loan while he was an undischarged bankrupt.
He was slapped with more than 150 charges last year. The remaining charges were taken into consideration for sentencing.
He claimed that the money he obtained was used largely to fund his gambling habit.
CHNG FORGED WHATSAPP CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN HIMSELF AND MR ONG
The court heard that over a period of about four years and four months, Chng cheated 12 victims. He was a grassroots volunteer at the Kaki Bukit constituency from 2010 to 2015, and got to know Mr Ong, who was the constituency’s adviser before he was elected to Parliament in 2015.
Chng had informed the victims that he was raising funds for investment in Elite Investment & Credit (EIC), a Singapore-registered company that ran a legal moneylending business. However, he was not involved in any way with the business or its operations.
On one occasion, Chng also requested a personal loan of S$250,000 from another victim, claiming that he needed the money to repay two bank loans on the same day.
In order to bolster the legitimacy of his investment scheme, Chng also claimed that Mr Ong and his wife were involved, and decided to create fake WhatsApp conversations that had supposedly taken place between Mr Ong and himself.
Chng created an additional WhatsApp account using a second mobile phone line, set a photo of Mr Ong as the account’s profile photo, and used “OYK” as the profile’s name. Using this account, he created WhatsApp conversations related to the EIC investment scheme.
He would then take screenshots of the WhatsApp conversations and send them to the victims.
He also forged a total of 19 business loan agreements, each bearing the letterhead “Elite Investment & Credit”, to convince one victim of the legitimacy of the scheme.
Chng also forged a business agreement that he had purportedly entered into with a person by the name of “Diana Kuik Sin Len”. The agreement said that Mr Ong was the spouse of this person, and that Chng had invested a sum of S$15 million with her. He then showed this agreement to one of the victims.
Mr Ong’s wife’s name is in fact Diana Kuik Sin Leng.
Chng's scheme was discovered when Mr Ong was informed by one of the victims about the WhatsApp conversations and the agreement that was supposedly with his wife. Mr Ong promptly made a police report in March 2017.
The court heard that only S$51,680 of the S$1.4 million has been repaid by Chng to date.
In sentencing, District Judge Ng Peng Hong noted that Chng had “exploited his position as a grassroots (volunteer)”, and added that the jail term reflects Chng’s level of culpability.