SINGAPORE: A young man who was part of a group of cheats linked to a bank scam that swindled an elderly man of more than S$35,000 admitted on Tuesday (Jan 18) to scamming his co-scammer.
Ravivarthan, 20, pocketed S$5,000 handed to him by an accomplice. He pleaded guilty to one count each of receiving criminal proceeds and criminal breach of trust. A third charge will be considered in sentencing.
The court heard that Ravivarthan was a 19-year-old student at ITE College Central at the time of the offences. His four co-accused knew each other either through school or a former employer.
They are: Rufus Rakesh Kumar Kalaiselvan, 18; Emmanuel Raymond, 19; Kshan Pillai Ganesan Pillai, 20; and Mahendra Sakkaravarthi Samraj Ahsockan, 33.
In late July 2020, Mahendra asked Kshan to help him get a bank account to receive a transfer of S$10,000, in exchange for a commission.
KShan asked Rufus for help to find a bank account. Rufus, in turn, approached the accused.
Rufus received S$10,000 in his bank account. However, as he had a withdrawal limit of S$5,000, he transferred S$5,000 to Emmanuel.
THE SCAMMERS TURN ON EACH OTHER
Rufus and the accused had planned to scam Kshan of the S$5,000 in Rufus' bank account and keep it for themselves.
The accused, who had intended to cheat Rufus as well, told the latter to keep the money first when the sum was transferred to him.
He later told Rufus to transfer the money into a "safer account" that purportedly belonged to a person who was remanded. The "safer account" belonged instead to the accused's girlfriend.
Trusting the accused, Rufus transferred S$4,900 to the bank account that the accused provided.
Kshan soon realised that he was possibly being scammed and began threatening Rufus for the money. Afraid, Rufus told the accused, who told him to report Mahendra in order to get protection.
Rufus asked the accused to return the money to Kshan. The accused assured Rufus that he would, but he gambled away more than S$3,000 of the money. Only S$1,856 was recovered from his girlfriend's account.
The accused's offences came to light when a police report was made in July 2020, over a scam involving a 77-year-old victim. The elderly man had responded to a phone call by a scammer and provided his bank card details and the OTPs sent to him.
After this, 15 unauthorised transactions were made on the elderly man's card, leading to a loss of S$35,350.
Police investigations traced the transactions to Ravivarthan's four co-accused.
Defence lawyer Ashwin Ganapathy of IRB Law asked for a probation suitability report for his client, saying this was his first brush with the law.
He pointed to his client's young age, and said he was no longer in contact with any of the co-accused in the case, who are "a bad influence on him".
He is an only child raised by his mother, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2017. Ravivarthan stopped his education to provide financially for his family, said the lawyer.
The judge called for a probation suitability report and adjourned sentencing to March.