Thursday, October 30, 2008

Singaporean Fraudsters Con The Kiwis

The original article on this topic was posted in the New Electric Paper today. Although the couple are facing more than 75 charges, I wonder how severe the penalties will be in New Zealand compared to the sentences that would have been imposed should the same offences have been committed here in Singapore. I, for one, will be watching this with close srutiny and interest.

Little is known about the couple's personal details. Even their real names are a mystery, but they are believed to be Singaporean.

But within a few weeks in New Zealand, they got up to so much mischief that they are now facing more than 75 charges of credit card fraud there.

The couple, named in court documents as Suliaman Haron, 50, and his wife, Saerah Men, 49, were arrested last month in New Zealand. Suliaman's occupation is unknown and Saerah is listed as a housewife.

They allegedly obtained credit cards under various names and then used, or tried to use, them to buy various items from shops and stores in New Zealand.

The credit cards were from various banks and finance companies there, New Zealand police said.
They allegedly committed the offences in Auckland and Queenstown between late August and 10Sep, when they were arrested in Christchurch.

They first appeared at the district court there the next day.

Detective-Sergeant Stuart McGowan of the Christchurch police fraud squad said the couple were alleged to have fraudulently obtained items such as jewellery, clothing and electronic items.

He said the items were worth 'tens of thousands' of New Zealand dollars (NZ$1 converts to about 85 cents).

Suliaman and his wife were listed in charge sheets as living in Ang Mo Kio Avenue, though there is no road with that name in Singapore.

Christchurch Court News reporter David Clarkson told The New Paper that the couple had a series of false identity documents, including one from Dubai, and were probably in New Zealand for only a few weeks as visitors before they were arrested.

Detective-Inspector Peter Kench of Christchurch police said the couple's real names were unknown and they lived in tourist accommodation in Auckland, Queenstown and other places in New Zealand before their arrest.

Mr Clarkson said: 'New Zealand police are continuing their inquiries overseas, and these so far have consisted of providing fingerprints to police in Singapore, Malaysia and Australia to try to identify the pair.'

Bail request denied

On 11Oct, the Christchurch District Court denied the couple's request to be released on bail and ordered them to be remanded till 6Nov.

District Court Judge John Bisphan said the couple's real identities were unknown and 'significant inquiries' had to be made.

He was not prepared to grant bail as there was 'a real and significant risk of flight'.

Mr McGowan said a meeting on 6Nov would fix a date for a conference, during which the prosecution and defence would present their cases. The judge would then determine if there was sufficient evidence to proceed with a trial.

If the couple do not enter a plea or maintain their innocence, a trial date would be set. An appeal from the couple to the High Court was dismissed last Thursday.

Mr McGowan said the couple initially faced 31 charges each. More charges were added during Thursday's hearing.

The New Paper was unable to speak to the couple's lawyer, Mr Christopher Persson, despite leaving two voice messages at his office.

Singapore police spokesman Muhd Hamizyam said yesterday that they had not received any requests for help from New Zealand police.


Other S'porean convicts in NZ

On 10 Oct, Kim Kwek, 44, was sentenced to a year's jail in Wellington for credit card fraud.

Kwek, who arrived in New Zealand on 24 Jul, faced six charges of using forged documents.

Over the next six days, he and several accomplices used six cloned credit cards to buy items worth NZ$41,000 ($34,000) in all.

They targeted mainly high-value items like jewellery and watches.

On 9 Oct 1991, a Singaporean salesman, 42, was sentenced to 12 years and four months' jail in Auckland for possessing heroin worth NZ$5 million.

His accomplice, an Australian concrete contractor, 40, was sentenced to eight years and four months' jail.

On 13 Jul 1990, two Singaporeans, aged 51 and 38, and a Malaysian, 48, were jailed for 17 years for their part in a plan to flood New Zealand with cheap heroin.

They were arrested in Auckland in May that year on charges connected with the seizure of a NZ$16m heroin stash.

Three accomplices - a Singaporean, a Malaysian and a New Zealander - were jailed earlier.

Source: Electric New Paper

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