Funeral director is jailed for unauthorized credit card charges of S$356,000 and attempted witness tampering

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SINGAPORE: A funeral director was sentenced to four years and three months in prison on Monday August 8 for making unauthorized credit card charges worth more than S$356,000.

As authorities closed in on Casper Ang, 34, he also tried to interfere with investigations by asking a police officer to pass information to a witness.

He pleaded guilty to 11 counts of unauthorized access to computer equipment, cheating, forgery, transfer of criminal proceeds, attempted obstruction of justice, management of failed businesses and fake police report.

The prosecution called Ang, also known as Hong Weiliang, a “varied and persistent offender”. 17 other charges against him were considered for sentencing.

Ang operated Singapore Funeral Supplies during the offences. He also ran Ang Brothers Funeral Services from 2019 to 2020 and medical provider CT Care from March to May 2020 when it was bankrupt.

ATTEMPTS OVER 450 TRANSACTIONS

The court heard that Ang made the credit card transactions at a payment terminal issued to Singapore Funeral Supplies by the company First Data. The terminal could process payments without a physical card.

Between August and December 2018, Ang received credit card details – at a minimum, the card number and expiration date – from four alleged accomplices.

They were Paul Wee Lian Heng, 67, and three people operating online as “TorCat”, “Federation Russia” or “FiRuC” and “Libean”.

Wee has been charged and will return to court for a pre-trial in August. The other individuals have not been identified. Ang did not know their identity but believed they were Russian.

Ang met Wee around August 2018 and was later contacted by the others via Telegram.

Using details provided by his four partners, Ang attempted to process 452 credit card transactions, of which 114 transactions worth more than S$356,000 were approved.

The value of other denied transactions was estimated to be around S$1.4 million. All affected cardholders would be foreigners.

Ang knew it was likely the card details were obtained illegitimately, but did not verify with cardholders that the transactions were authorized, Assistant Prosecutor Ryan Lim said.

He earned at least S$100,000 from his participation in the scheme by keeping some of the proceeds from successful trades.

First Data suffered a loss of more than S$275,000 after receiving requests for chargebacks or payment reversals, which it refunded to cardholders.

The breaches were discovered after First Data received numerous complaints from cardholders

CHEATED ON HIS STEPSISTER

To benefit from the scheme, Ang had to withdraw the money from the Singapore Funeral Supplies bank account.

Around October 2018, Ang’s wife and sister-in-law withdrew his access to company finances as they were concerned about his debt.

Ang’s sister-in-law took over the company’s checkbook and asked Ang to provide copies of vendor invoices before handing her a blank check.

From October to December 2018, Ang therefore provided fake invoices to obtain 13 blank checks from his sister-in-law.

He used them to withdraw more than S$265,000 from the company’s bank account, which came from the successful transactions.

He also admitted to passing proceeds of crime to Wee in cash or wire transfer, as well as to people acting on behalf of TorCat, FiRuC and Libean, usually by meeting them at Ang Mo Kio.

TRIED TO FOOL THE WITNESS

After Ang was arrested in April 2019, he lied to investigators saying his accomplice was a man who has since died.

He did this to derail investigations and deflect blame away from himself. In fact, Ang had previously taken care of the funeral of the man he named, and they didn’t really know each other.

Ang gave investigators the phone number of a witness who he said could verify that he and the man knew each other.

While Ang was remanded in custody for investigation on or around April 21, 2019, he met Quak Tiong Beng, then a staff sergeant who had worked for the police since 1999.

Quak, 42, recognized Ang as he followed Ang on social media and had previously met him when he was remanded for another case in May 2017.

They spoke and Ang informed Quak that he was under investigation.

When Quak passed Ang’s cell two days later, Ang asked if he could help him phone the witness.

He asked Quak to tell the witness that if an officer showed him a picture he should say he had seen the person before but could not confirm who it was.

Quak helped Ang call the witness. Unbeknownst to the two men, the witness was being questioned by the investigator at the time of the call.

The witness took the call in front of the officer and listened to it on speakerphone mode as Quak relayed the instructions. Quak was later investigated.

He pleaded guilty to helping Ang pervert the course of justice and was sentenced to five months in prison in June last year.

The prosecution requested four years and 11 months in prison, arguing that Ang’s crimes undermined the financial infrastructure and the integrity of police investigations.

Defense lawyer Amarick Gill has called for a shorter prison sentence, saying the sentence should not be calculated solely on the basis of the large sums of money involved.

Ang has appealed his sentence, which is on hold pending the outcome.

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