Third credit card fraudster sentenced

Malaysian national had 52 credit cards, false passport

Commenting that there seemed to be almost an epidemic of such crimes, Justice Charles Quin sentenced a Malaysian national to 16 months’ imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to offenses involving cloned or forged credit cards. 

Tan Tek Kuan, 38, pleaded guilty to obtaining a money transfer by deception to a value of $4,734.33 and attempting to obtain one for $70,976.80. The deception was in falsely representing that the credit cards he used were valid and that he was authorized to use them. 

Kuan, who was sentenced earlier this month, received the same prison term as those imposed in March by Justice Malcolm Swift on Malaysian nationals Thanabalan Manogar, 31, and Hew Senn Wann, 51. 

Crown counsel Toyin Salako said Kuan arrived in Cayman on Oct. 6, 2013. It appeared that his plan was to purchase high-value goods on the day of his departure and then head straight for the airport. He used forged/cloned credit cards for lodging, food and a flight to Kuala Lumpur.  

On Oct. 19, the day he was scheduled to leave the island, he attended Effy Jewelers and specifically asked for loose diamonds, one-half to two carats. He selected a diamond valued at US$18,000 and was constantly on his mobile phone. He presented a forged passport and five different credit cards, which were all declined. Kuan left the store, saying he needed to talk to his wife and get her to call their bank. 

That same day he went to Cartier Boutique and selected watches valued at a total of US$52,275. Again he was constantly on the phone during the attempted transactions and presented the false passport and credit cards that were forged or cloned; they were all declined and he again said he needed to speak to his wife. 

Staff at both stores were suspicious and called police. When officers observed Kuan at Kirk Freeport, they told him to stop where he was, but he ran when he realized they were police. He was apprehended a short time later. 

When interviewed, he said he owed money to someone in Malaysia. A man named Ahab offered him a job so he could repay it. He gave Ahab his passport, which was later returned to him along with credit cards, cash, and instructions to travel to Cayman. He said he traveled on his own passport and found the second passport in his luggage. He accepted having 52 credit cards and trying to use some of them.  

“Fraud is not a victimless crime and the monetary cost is significant,” Ms. Salako pointed out.  

Ms. Salako said she suspected that Cayman was targeted because this jurisdiction does not have “chip and PIN, where you put a card in and you need a PIN number. All you need here is a signature,” she noted. 

The cases of Manogar and Wann were referred to because of the similarity of the crimes, although the amounts involved in those cases were larger than in Kuan’s case. 

Defense attorney Lucy Organ said Kuan was given his instructions by someone named Simon. There was a text message from Simon saying, “I will teach you what to do.” 

Ms. Organ compared Kuan to Manogar and Wann, insofar as they were acting as pawns of a handler. She said Kuan was afraid that if he didn’t carry out instructions, there would be potential threats against his family and also the shaming of his family. The benefit to him was that his debt would be wiped clean.  

In passing sentence, Justice Quin commented that people behind this scheme were taking advantage of the Cayman Islands, where no PIN is required. He suggested the Chamber of Commerce consider recommending a chip and PIN system. 

There seems to be almost an epidemic of these sorts of crimes, he continued. “It is a brazen criminal activity. The job is to steal as much as you can and get out of town as quickly as possible,” he summarized. 

Fifty fraudulent credit cards and a false passport showed a fairly high degree of planning, he noted.  

“I’m just sorry that Simon isn’t in the dock along with Mr. Tek Kuan, or even instead of Mr. Tek Kuan,” the judge said. 

He added an order for deportation upon completion of sentence. 

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the all-access pass for the Cayman Compass.

Subscribe now