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Grab driver gets 3 months jail for refusing to return S$30,000 wrongly transferred to his account

Instead of reversing the transaction as he was instructed to do, Wong Siew Wai went on a spending spree, after which he could not be contacted

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Singapore — One Grab driver is learning that crime does not pay. Wong Siew Wai is going to jail for refusing to pay back over S$30,000 that was erroneously transferred to his account last year. When asked to reverse the transaction, Wong Siew Wai was nowhere to be found, and instead spent a large portion of the funds on himself.

On April 24, Mr Wong pled guilty to one count of dishonestly removing property belonging to Grab, and was sentenced on May 23 to serve three months in jail.

The incident began when a finance associate at Grab put the money, which had meant to be paid to a vendor, into Mr Wong’s account.

The vendor, Wow Gadgets, was supposed to receive S$33,678.25 in payments from the ride-hailing company. Due to an unfortunate error, the money was instead transferred by a Grab finance associate to the POSB savings account of Wong.

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At that time, according to Yahoo Singapore, Mr Wong provided freelance limousine services under Grab.

By August 30, when Wow Gadgets showed on the payment advice that the recipient was incorrect, the finance associate realised that he had made a mistake with the transfer of funds.

Mr Wong was contacted on that same day, and again on the following day.  However, the limousine driver refused to return the money, and could no longer be contacted thereafter.

According to Mr Wong, he asked POSB if the bank would hold him liable for declining to return funds that had been wrongly transferred to his account.

He claimed that POSB staff had told him that no action would be taken against him.

“The accused claimed that the POSB representative told him no action would be taken,” said the Deputy Public Prosecutor on the case, Claire Poh.

All in all, the limousine driver ended up spending at least S$23,094.86, more than two-thirds of the funds.

He allowed his money to be deducted from his GIRO from August to October for paying his bills. He also paid for the school fees of his child, withdrew S$8,300 in cash, and made bank transfers and top-ups to his cash card and McDonald’s debit card.

By October 24, a police report against him was filed by a regional finance controller with Grab Rentals. The next day, Mr Wong was interviewed by the police and he admitted to having spent the money from Grab.

At the time of his interview with the police, he still had S$12,000 from the wrongly transferred Grab funds in his account. By October 28, he returned this money, along with additional funds, to Grab. In total, Mr Wong has already returned S$12,000 to the ride-hailing company.

Yahoo Singapore reports the prosecutor as saying that Mr Wong had been strapped for cash, which led him to decide to spend the money instead of giving it back to the company.

The limousine driver could have received a three-year jail sentence, a fine, or both, on the charge of dishonestly removing property. /TISG

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