Man involved in largest-ever car scam in Spore gets 10 years’ jail

Man involved in largest-ever car scam in Spore gets 10 years’ jail
Koh Chek Seng. Photo: Singapore Police Force
Published: 7:20 PM, February 17, 2017
Updated: 11:19 PM, February 17, 2017

SINGAPORE — One of the three car dealers behind the largest case of fraud to hit the car industry, involving more than S$6 million, was sentenced to 10 years’ jail on Friday (Feb 17).

The 34-year-old man, Koh Chek Seng, together with alleged accomplices Alvin Loo and Jason Koh, both 36, had set up a car dealing company, Volks Auto, in April 2014. 

Loo, the scam’s alleged mastermind, was appointed the sole director and shareholder, and the authorised signatory to two bank accounts registered in the company’s name.

The trio started operations out of a Macpherson Road showroom the following month, and told customers that the company would directly import the cars that they ordered. To sell their story, Koh arranged for several cars — a Mercedes E-Class, a Mercedes C-Class  and a Porsche Boxster  — to be displayed in the showroom.

Between May 29 and Dec 7, 2014, the company collected deposits amounting to S$6,163,772 from 182 customers. One customer, for instance, paid S$163,000 for a Porsche Macan car.

During this time, the company made no effort to fulfil these orders, either by bidding for Certificates of Entitlement or applying for car importation through Singapore Customs.

Instead, the trio siphoned off their customers’ money by drawing multiple cash cheques from the company’s bank accounts. Koh took at least S$450,000, and squandered most of it at casinos in Singapore. 

The three men fled to China separately between Dec 5 and Dec 12 that year. Koh returned home voluntarily a year later, and was caught at the airport. His alleged accomplices remain at large.  

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ng Jean Ting said that it was clear the trio had no intention of running Volks Auto as a legitimate business, despite the steps taken to make it seem like one.

The car prices quoted to customers were below prevailing industry rates, and the business was not viable, she added. 

“The trio were not novices who made poor commercial judgments, but instead had prior experience in the car dealing industry, and used their knowledge and experience for their own ends — to the detriment of the victims,” she said. 

No restitution has been made. 

Representing Koh pro bono, lawyer Cheryl Ng, from Intelleigen Legal, said that Koh had received only a fraction of the illicit proceedings, and had little interaction with customers on the ground. 

“My client returned to Singapore to face the music, despite knowing that he was wanted by the police. Some credit should be given to that,” said Ms Ng.