Five Malaysian men suspected to be part of a transnational scam syndicate were formally charged in court on Wednesday. The individuals, aged between 19 and 36, were extradited to Singapore a day earlier following a coordinated raid on two flats in Johor Bahru by Malaysian law enforcement.
The accused, identified as Loh Chuan Sheng (35), Kek Yuan Chun (19), Heng Guo Hao (25), Yee Kong Yao (36), and Chua Zi Huang (23), are believed to be key operatives in “fake friend” call scam that specifically targeted Singaporeans.
The extradition process was initiated following a meticulous operation by Malaysian police, who raided two flats in Johor Bahru suspected of the transnational scam syndicate. The charges filed against the five men include offences related to fraud, conspiracy, and the use of deceptive tactics to perpetrate scams targeting Singaporean victims. The suspected held were huddled together in handcuffs.
The men were handed one charge each of being involved in a criminal conspiracy with each other and ‘other unknown’ of cheating people living in Singapore. The suspected held were deceiving people into believing that they were communicating with their known ones over the phone call and encouraging them to make PayNow bank transfers to third parties.
The men were believed to be involved in the syndicated offence, said the prosecution. As per the police statement, the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) of the Singapore police force (SPF) and the Johor Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) of the Royal Malaysia Police shared necessary information, this happened after over 6,300 people fell prey to such scams and at least S$21.1 million (US$15.7 million) was lost from a period of January to November last year.
The men held if convicted of conspiring to cheat, can be jailed for almost 10 years and fined. On January 31 they will return to court. Law enforcement officials on both sides of the border are expected to collaborate closely during the legal proceedings to ensure a comprehensive investigation and trial.
The prevalence of transnational scams underscores the need for increased international cooperation to combat such criminal activities effectively. Both Malaysia and Singapore are enhancing their collaborative efforts to dismantle such syndicates and bring the perpetrators to justice.