S'pore man, 20, pleads guilty to cheating 7 friends of S$332,000 in crypto investment scam

The defence lawyer said that the man believed that his peers would like him more if he was known to be successful in cryptocurrency trading.

Low Jia Ying | August 16, 2022, 07:03 PM

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A man in Singapore pleaded guilty to three counts of cheating on Tuesday (Aug. 16), after he convinced seven of his friends to invest about S$332,000 through him, according to CNA.

He had lied to his friends that he was successful in trading commodities like cryptocurrencies and in forex trading, and offered to help them invest their money.

The man, who is now 20 years old, committed his crimes when he was still a teenager.

He cannot be named as he was under 18 when he committed the offences.

17-year-old classmate invested more than S$188,000 through him

CNA reported that sometime before 2017, the man discovered that he could buy and sell in-game items, like those from Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, for a profit.

Later in November 2017, he wanted to increase his profits by buying and selling higher value items but did not have enough money to buy them.

The man was 16 years old then.

He wanted to ask his friends for money but understood that they would not give him any if they knew it would be used to buy in-game items, the court heard.

He then lied about his successful Bitcoin trades to his friends and guaranteed them fixed returns if they invested through him.

His 17-year-old classmate was deceived into giving him more than S$188,000 between January and August in 2018.

The man gave S$40,000 back to the classmate during the same period, telling him they were the returns on his investments.

The classmate made a police report on October 2018, alleging that he did not receive any returns after investing a large amount of money with the man.

Another 17-year-old schoolmate invested S$106,000

Another one of the man's victims, his 17-year-old schoolmate, was cheated into giving him about S$106,000 between May and August in 2018.

He also received S$40,000 from the man and was similarly told it was from the returns on his investments.

The schoolmate made a police report in October 2018.

Another friend, who was also 17 back then, invested S$5,000 with the man. The friend did not receive any returns.

Some of the victims had sourced money from relatives and friends to invest in the man's scheme.

The man paid back about S$82,000 to his friends in total, according to CNA.

Teen believed he would be well-liked by peers if he was successful at crypto trading: Defence

The man's lawyer, Adeline Goh, said her client had committed his crimes because he wanted to "gain a sense of belonging among his friends", according to CNA.

He believed that his peers would like him more if he was known to be successful in cryptocurrency trading.

The lawyer said that her client was genuinely remorseful for his actions, and he had even stopped playing computer games.

She said her client experienced firsthand how a "harmless lie" could easily derail his life, and that the court proceedings served as a "wake-up call" for him.

She added that her client was "at a loss" after his victims, who had started out with smaller investments, began increasing how much they were investing with him.

She asked that the court not consider reformative training, a harsher punishment as compared to a probation, for her client.

The judge ordered reports to assess the man's suitability for probation and reformative training.

The man will return to court for sentencing next week.

Another four similar charges will be considered in sentencing.

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