Malaysian woman charged in Singapore after victim scammed out of S$1.5m by ‘China officials’

Lee Pey Ying, a Malaysian, is accused of collecting S$1,537,000 between July 6 and 17 from her victim, who was told she was being investigated by Chinese authorities for a serious crime.  — TODAY pic
Lee Pey Ying, a Malaysian, is accused of collecting S$1,537,000 between July 6 and 17 from her victim, who was told she was being investigated by Chinese authorities for a serious crime. — TODAY pic

SINGAPORE — A 30-year-old Malaysian woman was charged today over her purported involvement in scamming a victim out of more than S$1.5 million (RM4.6 million) in cash.

Lee Pey Ying is accused of collecting S$1,537,000 from one Zhou Ying between July 6 and 17 this year. Court documents did not reveal who Zhou is.

The police said yesterday that they had arrested Lee and a 19-year-old woman for being involved in a China officials impersonation scam.

Their alleged victim had reported in July that she received unsolicited phone calls from unknown people claiming to be Chinese authorities. 

They told her she was being investigated for a serious crime and instructed her to hand over S$1 million in cash over five days to a woman, the police said.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the 19-year-old allegedly acted on the scammers’ instructions to collect the cash from the victim. The cash was then purportedly handed over to Lee.

Officers from the Commercial Affairs Department arrested both Lee and the 19-year-old on the same day of the report.

Lee now faces one charge of assisting another person to retain benefits from criminal conduct under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Offences (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.

Today, a police prosecutor told the court that none of the money has been recovered.

Lee was offered bail of S$100,000, though her lawyer argued that she was of low flight risk and asked for bail of S$30,000 instead. Her passport has been seized and her proposed bailor is a relative who works in Singapore.

The police prosecutor responded that Lee was “not forthright” and was unwilling to divulge her immigration status when she allegedly committed the offence.

She will return to court on November 27.

If convicted, she could be jailed up to 10 years or fined up to S$500,000, or both.

Investigations against the younger woman involved are ongoing.

The police warned that members of the public should not collect money from other individuals on behalf of unknown persons, especially those who claim to be law enforcement officers.

“Such callers are most likely scammers, and members of the public who act on their instructions may unwittingly have committed a crime by assisting to launder money from criminal activities,” they added.

Statistics released in August showed that an increase in crime in the first half of this year, compared with a year ago, was driven mainly by a rise in online scams.

Victims of the top 10 types of scams lost S$82 million in the first half of 2020 — double the amount from the same period in 2019. This included scams involving the impersonation of Chinese officials. — TODAY

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