No one would ever suspect a man of senior age could find it in his heart to do this, but it's true that not all of our elderly folk want to lead a life of only good deeds when they reach their golden years. There are a few who, let's put it this way, wants to experience that unusual thrill which can only be done when you commit crime, and if things go their way, hopefully get away with it.
In 2015, Toh Hock Thiam has hired runners to exchange his counterfeit chips for cash at the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, cheating the casino of a whopping S$1,291,000!
The mastermind of Singapore's biggest ever casino chip scam, 55-year-old Toh Hock Thiam, was jailed Wednesday, June 7. His jail sentence is seven years and four months.
Toh faced 13 charges under the Casino Control Act, in which he was found guilty after a trial that lasted 14 days. Taken into consideration were other 162 charges, including a charge for illegally fleeing the country.
On November 22, 2015, Toh had hired 16 runners who all cashed the fake chips at the Marina Bay Sands casino, cheating the company of S$1,291,000. This is by far the biggest scam of its type ever since Singapore launched two casinos in 2010.
A week later after Toh's accomplices cashed the fake chips, a casino cashier had noticed that there was a minor defect on one of the chips, which was worth S$1000. Upon closer inspection with the use of a specialized device, it turned out that the chip was counterfeit. A total of 1,291 fake chips were found.
According to the Casino Regulatory Authority, the fake chips were of the "best quality" it had seen so far. The fake casino chips possess five of the nine security features that the genuine chips have and were so expertly made that they could really fool even the most-experienced casino manager.
Prosecutors said, "This would have required financial resources and specialized knowledge and skills, typically only available to (criminal organizations)".
As the brains behind this scam, Toh enlisted two men, Chia Wei Tien and Soew Piak Long, who in turn recruited 16 runners. The two also aided Toh to distribute the fake chips in a toilet in the casino, where they could effectively avoid CCTV cameras.
Together, the runners entered the casino and exchanged the chips for cash. They were nowhere to be found the next morning.
The next day, November 23, 2015, Toh deposited (the suspicious) S$335,400 into his bank account. However, by December 1, he withdrew nearly all of it when he found out that the authorities were pursuing him. He was caught and arrested on December 31 as he fled across the border to Malaysia, and on the next day he was extradited to Singapore.
Asoka Markandu, Deputy Public Prosecutor, stated Toh declined to cooperate with the investigators, "He offered no leads ... nor identified any of the contact numbers or photographs that were shown to him."
With that, the prosecutor proposed a jail sentence of seven and a half years for Toh, stating that "a strong deterrent message must be sent to dissuade syndicates from operating here. Syndicates are often associated with the underworld and we cannot let these syndicates spread their tentacles here."
Even if Marina Bay Sands found a total of 1,291 fake chips, only 420 of them (worth S$420,000) were traced back to Toh. Markandu said, "But the chips were ‘all the same', so Toh was either involved in the manufacture and distribution of all the chips or he knew someone."
For the scam, Toh potentially faces up to seven years in jail and/or fined up to S$150,000 per charge.
Chia and Seow are currently serving jail sentences of 12 and 60 months respectively. Thirteen runners have also been sentenced between five and 14 months behind bars. The remaining three runners are still at large.