Scammers in the slammer

BUTTERWORTH: Two men, part of an international online fraud syndicate, have been jailed six months each by the Sessions Court here.

British citizens Lloyd George Bedwell, 48, and Roger Hoi Wing Hu, 46, pleaded guilty yesterday before Sessions judge Zulhazmi Abdullah after the two alternative charges were read to them in English by the court translator during the proceeding.

Both were also fined RM100,000 each and Zulhazmi ordered them to serve their prison terms from the day of arrest on Feb 21.

According to the charges, Lloyd and Hoi with one Jacob Yazdi, who is still at large, were accused of cheating two Austrian nationals Trevor Ronald John Curtis and Kimberley John Buist Walker.

They were accused of deceiving the victims into believing that they were guaranteed to make a significant profit from a short-term investment by purchasing shares in a company known as Devon Energy Corp, which both of the accused knew did not exist.

Both were accused of dishonestly inducing their victims to deliver a sum of A$8,991.92 (RM27,018.28) and A$8,573 (RM25,759.54) into an RHB Bank account belonging to MB International Sdn Bhd.

They were accused of committing the offences at Island Plaza Tower in Tanjung Tokong on Dec 16 last year and Jan 5 this year.

The charges were brought under Section 471 of the Penal Code, read together with Section 34 of the same, which carries a maximum jail term of five years or fines or both if convicted.

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) deputy public prosecutors Ahmad Akram Gharib, Noor Azura Zulkifli and Afiqa Liyana Rozman appeared for the prosecution while the accused were represented by counsel V. Muniandy and A. Ashok.

On Feb 21, the MACC, with the cooperation of other agencies including the Immigration Department, busted an investment syndicate masterminded by British citizens in the country, following 24 raids and the arrest of 81 suspects.

Codenamed Op Tropicana, the raids were conducted simultaneously including at call centres, companies and houses in the Klang Valley and Penang.

The syndicate, which started in 2019, was accused of amassing almost RM200mil after duping victims in Australia and the United Kingdom.

MACC chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki had said the syndicate, whose members are from Australia, the United Kingdom, South Africa and the Philippines, had offered fake investment portfolios through advertisements on social media.

It is believed the syndicate was part of an international scam ring that had duped victims across the globe of over RM1bil.

It was reported on Thursday that two other British nationals pleaded guilty at the Shah Alam Sessions Court to similar charges.

Shah Alam Sessions Court judge Rozilah Salleh sentenced Andrew Mark Peters, 54, and Darren Anthony McNicholas, 50, to six months’ jail each after they pleaded guilty to their roles in the scam which misled people into making investments in non-existent companies.

They pleaded guilty to inducing a Scottish man, Ian Strachan, to transfer £121,200 (RM579,249) into a CIMB Bank account belonging to Premier Transfers Ltd for a non-existent investment scheme.

In addition, Peters was ordered to pay a RM180,000 fine and was sentenced to an additional 22 months’ imprisonment should he fail to pay the fine, while McNicholas was ordered to pay a RM140,000 fine and faces an additional 16 months’ imprisonment should he fail to pay.

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