20-Year-Old Pleads Guilty To OCBC Phishing Scams & 2 Rioting Charges
On Wednesday (20 Apr), 20-year-old Leong Jun Xian pleaded guilty to playing a part in the scams alongside two separate charges of rioting.
He was the first person linked to the OCBC phishing scams to admit to the crimes.
Youth guilty for OCBC phishing scams & rioting
According to The Straits Times (ST), Leong admitted on 20 Apr to 2 counts each of dealing with the benefits of criminal conduct and rioting. He also pleaded guilty to one charge under the Organised Crime Act.
Leong belongs to a group of seven youths charged in February for their alleged involvement in the OCBC phishing scams.
The youths reportedly worked together to provide money laundering services for unknown individuals linked to overseas crime syndicates.
They did so by sourcing for and providing control of bank accounts to the syndicates.
Court documents also state that Leong had agents working under him for this role.
768 reports lodged over OCBC phishing scams
According to Channel NewsAsia (CNA), Deputy Public Prosecutors Jason Chua and Lee Wei Liang state that the police received 768 reports from victims of the OCBC phishing scams.
The victims found their bank accounts compromised and that funds had been transferred without proper authorisation. In total, the victims suffered losses amounting to S$12.8 million.
They received instructions for all the aforementioned crimes from three different chat groups via Telegram.
Ultimately, Leong provided 12 of the 16 bank accounts sent to the syndicates in the chat groups between Dec 2021 to Feb 2022.
The syndicates used these bank accounts to receive nearly $600,000 from victims of various scams.
Both prosecutors also confirmed that Leong was aware of the nature of the syndicates — he recognised that the funds ferried through the bank accounts were “not clean”.
They further added that from Nov 2021 to Feb 2022, Leong and the other youths were part of a locally organised crime group.
Secret society member guilty of rioting
In addition to the money-laundering charges, Leong also admitted to two separate acts of rioting, reports TODAY.
Leong was reportedly a member of the Sio Kun Tong secret society and had perpetrated two separate incidents of rioting.
In Nov 2020, Leong was involved in a fight that broke out over a staring incident at Oriental Plaza. Three teenagers were consequently injured in the incident.
In Jan 2021, Leong accompanied fellow gang members to attack a man. The victim had allegedly made degrading remarks at their gang.
They proceeded to force the victim to kneel and bow 18 times to apologise to the gang. Throughout the confrontation, they continued to assault him.
The maximum punishment for dealing with the benefits of criminal conduct is a jail sentence of up to 19 years and a fine of up to S$500,000.
Those found guilty of rioting can be jailed for up to seven years and caned.
More help for youths in organised crime
The OCBC phishing scams were understandably concerning, given the vast amount of money lost. The crimes affected many, and the enormous losses incurred exposed the vulnerabilities in our banking systems.
Separately, such crimes involving young individuals also exposed shortcomings in the fabric of our society — perhaps more can be done to extend a helping hand to vulnerable youths.
We hope the victims of the scam will have some peace of mind as more of those responsible get brought to task.
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