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70-year-old woman behind Keppel Club membership scam pleads guilty

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Setho had worked in the club for 48 years and rose through the ranks to become personal assistant to the general manager at the time of the offences.

[SINGAPORE] A 70-year-old woman accused of being the mastermind behind a S$37.5 million scam that duped people into paying for fake memberships at Keppel Club, pleaded guilty in court on Monday.

Setho Oi Lin, also known as Setho Irene, 70, pleaded guilty to 60 charges of cheating after facing more than 3,000 charges.

Setho had worked in the club for 48 years and rose through the ranks to become personal assistant to the general manager at the time of the offences. The general manager was in charge of membership transfers, enrolments, resignations and queries.

Setho was said to have started selling fake club memberships from 2004, Deputy Public Prosecutor Ian Ernst Chai had earlier told Principal District Judge Bala Reddy. She would source for interested buyers on her own or inform membership agents that she had Keppel Club memberships for sale.

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Last week, on Nov 30, a supervisor at the club, Nah Hak Chuah, and a club member, Ivy Cheo Soh Chin, both 67, were earlier convicted over their roles in the scam.

Setho, who moves around in a wheelchair, is Cheo's friend.

Nah admitted to 30 of 1,280 charges of making false entries in the electronic membership database in the club management system, while Cheo admitted to 20 of 303 charges of money laundering.

In November, DPP Chai said that the general manager of the club lodged a police report on Aug 13, 2014, stating that both Nah and Cheo cheated people into buying club memberships from phantom members.

Instead of paying the club, these buyers were directed to pay the purchase prices and transfer fees to third parties who included, among others, Cheo, her daughter, mother and brother-in-law, who were never members of the club.

Over a period of 10 years, Nah, who worked at the club's membership department, duped 1,341 people into believing that they had paid for membership at the club, even issuing them cards which allowed them use of the facilities. As of August 2014, the club had 2,682 legitimate members.

In all, the buyers forked out a total of S$37.5 million for club memberships from 2004 to 2014, which included transfer fees of S$17 million.

The amount was supposed to be paid to Keppel Club.

Nah and Cheo will be back in court on Jan 10 next year.

THE STRAITS TIMES

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