Updates on The High Profile OCBC Phishing Scam & Money Laundering Case
SINGAPORE (AP) — On Wednesday (April 20), a 20-year-old man became the first of seven people indicted in court to plead guilty to his role in a series of high-profile phishing schemes that targeted OCBC Bank between December last year (2021) and January this year (2022).
Leong Jun Xian, who turns 21 on Thursday, assisted in the laundering of the crooks’ proceeds. He provided 12 bank accounts for this reason and instructed runners to withdraw scam earnings from ATMs. Prosecutors maintained that the youth was more than just a “cog in the wheel” because there was severe preparation and forethought involved. According to court filings, the OCBC phishing frauds affected over 800 clients, who lost $12.8 million. The bank previously stated that the swindle cost them $13.7 million.
How Was This Scam Orchestrated?
According to the prosecutor, Leong and the co-accused collaborated to provide money laundering services to several unknown people alleged to be affiliated with foreign syndicates.
They accomplished this by locating and handing over control of bank accounts to the syndicate. In December of last year and February of this year, they offered at least 16 bank accounts to the syndicate through Telegram chat groups, with Leong personally providing 12 accounts. Nearly $ 600,000 was received by the 16 accounts from victims of different schemes, including OCBC phishing. Leong and his co-accused interacted with the syndicate through three Telegram chat groups: “K2 1,505,” “G5 xiao ye che,” and emoji from the Singapore flag.
They worked for “William,” who also went by the names “Huang Fei Hong” in the K2 chat group, “Huang Da Ge” in the G5 chat group, and “Terry” in the Singapore flag discussion group, all of whom Leong and his co-accused thought were headquartered abroad. Leong and his co-defendants also spoke internally through another Telegram chat group named “Mobile Legends.” Leong was a part of all four chat rooms.
His position entailed locating bank accounts from unknown people on Telegram and providing bank account information to the syndicate in chat groups. He also directed his agents to find such bank accounts and Peh and A2 to take funds from the accounts in accordance with the syndicate’s instructions.
Leong and Kong told A2 to take a total of $ 81,800 from her bank account on December 28, last year. The funds were traced back to two victims of OCBC phishing attacks. A2 gave the money to Leong, who spent some of it on paying bank account holders who had sold him their accounts. William promised Leong a monthly income of S $ 3,000, plus an extra S $ 600 to S $ 800 for each bank account he provided.
According to the prosecutor, Leong stated that he knew the money deposited in the accounts he provided was “not pure” and that he had grounds to believe that the people he spoke to within the chat groups were involved in illicit activity.
Suspected Scammers Are Believed To Reside Overseas
The court heard that, along with Leong, these youths are accused of participating in the OCBC phishing scams :
- Brayden Cheng-Ming Yan, 19
- Kong Jia Quan, 19
- Jovan Soh Jun Yan, 19
- Roy Peh Yong Rong, 19
- Muhammad Khairuddin Eskandariah, 20
- Lim Kai Ze, 21
- A female teenager identified as A2, 17
What Strategy The Scammers Had Employed
The Scammers impersonated OCBC and sent victims SMS text messages notifying them of bogus banking concerns and providing a website link. The Victims who believed the letters were authentic from OCBC visited the website and were sent to a bogus login page.
They provided their electronic banking login information and one-time passwords on the website and were directed to the final landing page. Unknown individuals then took control of their bank accounts, created digital banking tokens, and modified the victims’ login credentials and contact information associated with the accounts without their knowledge. Scammers then transferred funds from the accounts to other local and international accounts.
Investigations found that Leong and the others collaborated to provide money-laundering services to several unknown individuals suspected of being tied to offshore syndicates. This includes finding and giving these folks access to bank accounts. Some of the accounts were used to collect and distribute payments from victims of scams. Others were utilized in connection with money obtained from victims of earlier scams.
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Leong’s Attorney’s Point of View
Audrey Koo of Populus Law said Leong was determined not to re-offend. He had completely adhered to his curfew hours, she claimed, and his connection with his parents had improved since his imprisonment.
The lawyer said that her client’s money laundering offenses were motivated by avarice but that given his young age, he had not contemplated the long-term ramifications of his conduct. “At his age, he was easily enticed by the prospect of easy money put in front of him,” Ms. Koo said, adding that a probation officer should educate him to analyze the dangers when faced with similar decisions. In requesting a probation report, she told the court that Leong required education and family support.
She further claimed that the syndicate used young criminals like Leong, claiming that “if it wasn’t him, it would have been another 20-year-old seduced by the easy money.” In response, the prosecution stated once more that Leong had a “central role” in the crimes for which he was jailed. District Judge Soh stated that he requested a probation report in order to better comprehend Leong’s background. The judge said that no matter what punishment is proposed, the court will impose the right one.
Facilitating the control of benefits from criminal action is punishable by up to ten years in prison, a fine of up to S$500,000, or both. Those found guilty of being a part of a locally affiliated organized crime gang face up to five years in prison, a S$100,000 fine, or both. Rioting is punishable by up to seven years in prison and caning.
- Author: Louisa Tang https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/youth-20-first-plead-guilty-laundering-money-multi-millon-dollar-ocbc-phishing-scams-1877311
- Author: Shaffiq Alkhatib https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/first-person-linked-to-ocbc-phishing-scam-pleads-guilty-to-offences-including-money-laundering
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