Ninja Van delivery driver took S$18,500 and phones from customers, gets jail after company tracks him down with GPS
SINGAPORE: A delivery driver in debt pocketed more than S$18,000 in cash as well as mobile phones worth S$3,850 from Ninja Van customers.
Derrick Tan Jian Sheng, 35, was nabbed after the courier company tracked him down via the Global Positioning System (GPS) in his company van and surrounded his vehicle.
For one count of criminal breach of trust by a servant, Tan was sentenced on Wednesday (Aug 19) to eight months' jail. He has been fired from Ninja Van.
The court heard that Tan started committing the offences within a month of joining the company in April 2018.
He was entrusted with several tasks, which included collecting payment from customers for cash-on-delivery items. The money had to be handed to Ninja Van within 24 hours of the delivery.
He was also responsible for the deliveries of trade-in mobile phones. Ninja Van told CNA in a statement on Wednesday evening that this system was for customers who bought mobile phones via an online sales channel from shippers who were Ninja Van's clients.
A specially trained driver was to visit the customer and assess the condition of the phone to be traded in to offset the cost of the new phone.
If the phone qualifies, it would be traded in for a certain price, and the driver would similarly have to pass the phones to Ninja Van within 24 hours.
If the phone was deemed unacceptable, he had to collect the corresponding cash from the customer.
In 2018 between May 22 and Jun 11, Tan made 72 deliveries involving cash-on-delivery items and trade-in mobile phones.
He collected cash of S$18,555 from customers and 16 mobile phones worth a total of S$3,850, but did not hand these over to his company.
Instead, he used it to pay off personal debts, part of which were for payments of more than S$23,000 he owed the Land Transport Authority, his lawyer said.
Part of the money was also paid to loan sharks, said the prosecutor, and Tan sold the phones on Carousell.
On Jun 8, 2018, Ninja Van's finance department told Tan's manager that there had been multiple discrepancies from deliveries Tan made.
Internal records showed that although the relevant deliveries had been completed, the money and mobile phones that Tan collected were unaccounted for.
Tan's manager arranged to meet him but Tan did not show up, ignoring his manager's attempts to reach him.
The manager eventually called the police. Tan was traced to M Hotel using the GPS in the company van assigned to him, and he admitted that he had taken the items and cash.
HE COULD NOT PAY: DEFENCE
The prosecutor asked for at least eight months' jail, saying that the S$200 Tan had returned was "insignificant" considering the total sum taken.
Lawyer Shehzhadee Rahman of IRB Law asked for not more than eight months' jail, saying that her client had wanted to make full restitution but was unable to because of his financial situation.
"In fact he had gone to great lengths to raise the S$200, as he had to repay personal loans and has been unemployed for the past year," she said.
When she mentioned that he had used most of the money to pay off a fine he owed LTA for more than S$23,000, the judge said that no act of dishonesty is justifiable, and told her not to place emphasis on this point.
For criminal breach of trust as a servant, Tan could have been jailed for up to 15 years and fined.
WE DO NOT CONDONE DISHONESTY: NINJA VAN
The case comes a week after another Ninja Van driver was sentenced to jail for taking 147 items meant for customers.
A Ninja Van spokesperson told CNA on Wednesday that the company immediately suspended Tan and launched an internal investigation when it first heard that a crime may have been committed.
When Tan failed to turn up to facilitate investigations, the company tracked him to a hotel, surrounded his vehicle and waited for authorities to arrive, before handing the case to the police.
"Our role and responsibility is to function as the bridge connecting online and offline spaces. We are fundamentally responsible for delivering parcels from our shippers to their shoppers," said the spokesperson.
"As part of the e-commerce ecosystem, we are fully committed to ensuring a safe and secure experience for all stakeholders involved. We do not condone or tolerate any acts of dishonesty at Ninja Van."
The spokesperson added that there was "no impact to end customers as the restitution was between us and our clients in question".