SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): A youth on Tuesday (Aug 16) admitted to cheating seven of his friends of more than $330,000 in an investment scam, using the money instead to buy items used in online games and for online gambling.
The youth, who was 16 when he committed the crimes, told his friends he would help them invest in the foreign exchange and cryptocurrency markets.
He claimed that he had made money trading Bitcoin, and even guaranteed them fixed returns if they invested through him.
But the youth, who is now 20, wanted some of the money to buy items used in online games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, which he had planned to later sell for a profit.
As he knew his friends would not give him the money, he decided to lie to them instead.
In total, he cheated his victims of $332,067.
The youth, who cannot be named as he was under 18 years of age when he committed the crimes, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to three counts of cheating three people.
Four other similar charges will be taken into account for his sentencing.
Probation and reformative training reports were called for and he is scheduled to return to court on Aug 23.
The three victims in the charges he pleaded guilty to were his schoolmates. They were 17 years old at the time.
The victims all filed police reports when they did not receive the promised returns on their purported investments.
The court heard that one of them had given him $106,050 over at least 26 occasions between May 8, 2018 and Aug 11 that year.
The accused gave him $40,870 as purported returns on his investments.
Another victim, a classmate of the youth, gave him $188,847 over at least 35 occasions between January 2018 and Aug 18 that year.
He gave this friend $40,695 as purported returns on his investments.
The third victim gave $5,000 to the accused as an investment and did not receive any returns.
The prosecution called for a deterrent sentence, arguing that there has been an increase in scam cases in Singapore.
It also noted that the amount involved was high and the accused had deceived his victims on 84 occasions.
For cheating, offenders face a jail term of up to 10 years and a fine.