In November 2019, Mr Apparsundaramoorthy ‘A’, a work-permit holder from India, had a chance encounter with Mr Yaseen ‘Y’ at the Ubi Driving school. A was having issues with the online portals and requested Y’s assistance.
Over the course of their brief conversation, Y queried A about remittance and offered to assist A with remittance at a lowered rate with better payouts. A did not commit to any transactions and they parted ways having exchanged contact details.
In Dec 2019, Y contacted A and enquired if A had proceeded to remit monies to India. Y stated that he required Singaporean Currency (SGD) and requested that A handover whatever sum he intends to remit promising to remit a higher amount back to India. Y, supplemented credentials about being a licensed Money Changer and A agreed to handover the money.
The transaction was successful and A felt secured with the relationship. A offered up Y’s contact details to several other co-workers and soon after, Y became a central point of contact for remittance for a large pool of foreign workers.
The transactions were smooth for several months. In March, upon announcement of the lockdown, Y contacted A and asked why the money due for remittance hadn’t been transferred. A cited the Circuit Breaker (CB) and stated that many were unable to step out to conduct any transactions. Y insisted that the transactions could be completed online and encouraged A to continue with the deposits.
The transactions continued until June 2020. In June 2020, A’s remittance had not been processed and A contacted Y to verify the situation. Y claimed that he had ran into some issues and requested for more time to submit the remittance.
A enquired around his circle and discovered that many others who were processing remittance through Y, were also experiencing the stall. Owing to the fluency of the previous transactions, A decided to give Y the time requested and assured others that the situation would be resolved.
In Aug 2020, the situation had yet to be resolved and A was angered by the unresponsiveness of Y. A decided to inform Y that he would be taking the issue up with the authorities. Y pleaded with A and proposed that a deed be written to official document the monies owed to the parties and that he would adhere to the formalities of the deed.
A and others obliged and agreed to sign a deed with details of the monies owed by Y to several individuals and a proposed repayment schedule. The first deed drafted stipulated a total sum of SGD$230,000/-, while a second deed drafted between a another set of workers stipulated a quantum of SGD$26,745/-.
The first instalment due was paid in full, but the second instalment was not paid in full and the workers experienced more issues recovering the sum in accordance with the deed. Y continued to make excuses stating that he had been scammed and was waiting to recover the funds before repaying the workers.
In the mean time, A and many others received a text from an unknown individual, claiming to be Y’s legal representative, requesting for a smooth resolution without involving the authorities. A’s many requests to meet and speak were rejected and the alleged legal representative refused to respond to any further calls from A or other workers.
A, among others, were growing increasingly frustrated when one of A’s co-workers (B) proposed getting a middle-man to resolve the dispute. B convinced A that it was a legitimate solution and A agreed to handing over the issue to the middle-man named “Roy”. “Roy” contacted Y in Oct 2020 and allegedly resolved the situation, with Y agreeing to pay the sum back to the workers within one week. Soon after, Y contacted A and accused him of enlisting the help of gangsters to recover funds and threatened to have A and others deported for criminal intimidation.
Having lost a sizeable amount of their savings, A began to worry about his safety and welfare. As A was the point of contact for several workers to engage Y’s remittance service, those who parted with their monies began asking A for returns. A has been paying them off with his own salary til date.
Many others who were similarly operating as contact sharers were trapped in similar situations, where people who took Y’s details from them were harassing them for return of the monies.
It was during this period that A chanced upon the Juris-EQ Consultancy & Services (powered by JMS ROGERS) advert online and contacted them for assistance on 21 October 2020.
Through our investigations, we discovered that the account that he had provided A, was not an official remittance account and instead was ACRA-registered as a company specialising in technology. We also discovered that there was no concrete evidence that Y was a licensed money changer registered under the Payment Services Act or the Money-Changing or Remittance Business License Act.
We contacted Y to set up a meeting with him. While he affirmed his attendance, he did not show up for the meeting as promised. Attempts to contact his legal representative were also futile.
Immediately, Juris-EQ Consultancy & Services gathered several workers, along with the detailed documentation of their interactions and proceeded to ‘F’ Division to lodge a complaint with SPF.
They registered the case as one of “Criminal Breach of Trust”. The relevant authorities will be proceeding with the investigations and we hope that perpetrator will be brought to justice.
We will await the outcome before revealing the scammer’s identity as we believe there may be more individuals coming forward to share their losses as a result of Y’s scam.
We hope that vulnerable members of our community do not fall prey to such unscrupulous characters.