Man jailed 2.5 years for cheating 181 victims on Carousell with fake hotel staycation deals
SINGAPORE — Undeterred by his previous jail stint for cheating, a freelance IT solutions worker duped at least 181 people on e-marketplace Carousell over one-and-a-half years. Ang Han Siong chose the platform after researching and reading articles about Carousell scams.
- Ang Han Siong recruited more than 20 Carousell users to help him promote fake deals
- He cheated his victims of S$54,920 in total, some of it while he was out on court bail
- His victims thought they had bought Universal Studios Singapore tickets or room packages at Marina Bay Sands or Sentosa hotels
SINGAPORE — Undeterred by his previous jail stint for cheating, a freelance IT solutions worker duped at least 181 people on e-marketplace Carousell over one-and-a-half years.
Ang Han Siong chose the platform after researching and reading articles about Carousell scams.
He also recruited more than 20 Carousell users as his “promoters” for sales of fake hotel stay packages and Universal Studios Singapore theme park tickets.
After he was first charged in court, Ang committed more offences while out on bail. He managed to cheat S$54,920 in total before his bail was revoked.
On Thursday (Aug 27), the 31-year-old Singaporean was sentenced to two-and-a-half years’ jail for his latest crimes.
He pleaded guilty to 40 cheating charges, with another 143 similar charges taken into consideration for sentencing.
In 2012, he had been sentenced to eight weeks’ jail for cheating as well.
Ang developed an addiction to online gambling in late 2017 and often lost money, the court heard.
Without a stable income as an IT worker and part-time mover, he was unable to sustain his gambling habit. He then decided to turn to e-commerce scams.
In December 2017, he created several Carousell accounts, verifying them using mobile numbers from pre-registered SIM cards bought from online underground markets in order to avoid detection.
He then used fake names to list fictitious hotel stay packages on his accounts, or recruited other Carousell users to help him sell. It is unclear if they knew of his scam.
The hotels included Marina Bay Sands, Hard Rock Hotel Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa and Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa.
When potential customers responded to his advertisements, he told them that in order to secure their bookings, they had to transfer full payments or deposits into various bank accounts. These accounts were linked to online gambling websites that he frequented.
After they had paid up, he told them to check in at their chosen hotels on the dates that they had booked.
He then directed the gambling websites’ operators to top up the credits in his online gambling accounts, allowing him to keep up his habit.
The victims would realise that they had been duped when they got to the hotels and were denied their check-in requests.
Ang could not be contacted when they tried to reach him for clarification.
RECRUITED SELLERS BUT DID NOT PAY THEM
Later on, Ang decided that it was too slow and time-consuming to personally respond to each customer’s enquiry.
In order to get more money, he began recruiting other users into his scheme and also asked some of them to advertise mobile phones and theme park tickets for sale.
To do that, he created new sets of Carousell accounts, some of which he used to contact and recruit these users.
He kept the other accounts on standby, using them as replacements should the former set of accounts be blocked by the Carousell administrator. This was so that the accounts would not appear newly created.
Ang told the promoters to refer all interested buyers to him through WhatsApp, so that he could deal with them directly.
He also promised the promoters weekly commissions for every hotel package sold but ultimately did not pay them anything. He eventually stopped communicating with them and could not be reached.
Between February 2018 and October last year, the police received at least 198 reports from victims of the scams.
Ang was first charged in court on Sept 13, 2018 and released on court bail. He was then remanded for investigations on July 11 last year before his bail was rescinded.
He has not made any restitution to his victims.