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Former Miss Universe contestant gets jail for unauthorised online shopping using memorised card numbers

Ashley Rita Wong memorised the debit card details of two friends and used them for unauthorised purchases.

Former Miss Universe contestant gets jail for unauthorised online shopping using memorised card numbers

Ashley Rita Wong, an influencer and former Miss Universe Singapore contestant. (Photo: Instagram/ashleyritawong)

SINGAPORE: A Miss Universe Singapore 2017 contestant was given six weeks' jail on Thursday (Feb 11) for using her friends' debit card details to make unauthorised purchases after memorising them.

Ashley Rita Wong Kai Lin, a 27-year-old e-gaming commentator, had pleaded guilty in December to four charges under the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act, with another 27 charges taken into consideration for sentencing. 

She targeted two friends in 2016 by memorising their debit card details when they were unaware, and later using the information to shop online. A third victim was included in a charge taken into consideration.

She had gone out socially with the first victim - a 28-year-old man - after a breakup with her boyfriend. While out one day, the victim left his wallet on the table as he went to the washroom, and Wong took out his debit card to memorise its details.

The victim later discovered unauthorised transactions on his card. She had used it on more than 20 occasions between August and September 2016 to buy items like tickets worth S$304, Lazada purchases worth S$230 and items worth S$196 from an online fashion store.

The victim was able to dispute one of the transactions with his bank and was refunded in full, while Wong has returned him the money for the other transactions.

The second victim was a 26-year-old female friend of Wong's. When trying to make online payments with her debit card in July 2016, the victim realised there were insufficient funds in her bank account, even though her father had just transferred about S$1,000 to the account.

The victim checked and saw two charges on her card including S$264 for a stay at Hotel Clover. At first, she suspected her ex-boyfriend and told Wong about her suspicions. However, when she realised that Wong was accused of using card details of others, she confronted Wong, who admitted to memorising the victim's card details for her own use.

The victim disputed the transaction with DBS bank and was refunded in full, with the bank recovering its losses from Hotel Clover. Wong has repaid the hotel S$264. 

Deputy Public Prosecutor Cheng You Duen asked for at least two months' jail for Wong, saying that credit card offences undermine the use of such cards as modes of payment and offenders have to expect harsh sentences.

Mr Cheng also said Wong demonstrated an element of planning and premeditation, as she would wait for the victims to leave their cards unattended before putting effort into memorising the details.

The details included more than than 10 digits as well as the expiry date and CVC number on the cards, and there were three victims in total over three months.

Disputing a point by the defence, Mr Cheng said investigations showed no evidence that the three victims had forgiven Wong, and instead - one of them had cut off contact with her at the time the victims' statements were taken.

He highlighted that the defence's own psychiatric expert could not conclude that Wong was suffering from a condition at the time of the offence. A mandatory treatment order report showed no contributory link with any disorder to the offences, let alone a causative link, said Mr Cheng.

Defence lawyer Christine Low, who was appointed only at the sentencing stage, said her client had demonstrated genuine remorse from the outset and pleaded guilty at the first opportunity.

The breach of trust between friends was not the same degree as that shown in another similar case, she said, adding that Wong's offences required "minimal criminal expertise" as she "merely memorised card details".

The judge said she had considered all the factors including the fact that Wong had no previous convictions and has made as much restitution as possible, but said deterrence remained the key consideration.

For each charge of unauthorised access to computer material, Wong could have been jailed for up to two years, fined up to S$5,000, or both.

Source: CNA/ll(ac)


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