SINGAPORE — A man misappropriated 17 laptops from his workplace and bought 40 others in his company’s name to sell in order to gift the monies to female online live streamers, according to his lawyer.
Chen Weizhou, 34, pleaded guilty to one count of criminal breach of trust as an employee and two counts of cheating. One count of accessing a database without authority, in order to continue his ruse of buying the laptops, will be considered for his sentencing.
The affected laptops are worth more than $122,000.
Facts of the case
According to court documents, Chen was an IT manager of Irisnation Singapore at the time of the offences. He had worked there since 2018 and was responsible for all IT equipment, including those stored within the company’s server room, of which he had the access key.
Between December 2019 and May last year, the accused embezzled 17 laptops from the server room and brought them home. No one questioned him due to his position. The laptops had a value of $11,500 and he eventually sold them through online platform Carousell for around the same value.
He then used the money to repay his debts and for personal expenses, according to the prosecution.
Falsified purchase requests
At the same time, Chen also cheated his firm’s two computer equipment suppliers, Generic Technologies and Computer Infotech, into delivering him a score of laptops.
Between 19 November 2019 and 29 January last year, Chen deceived Generic Technologies into believing that Irisnation had authorised the purchase of 14 laptops, worth $37,203.90. Chen submitted eight purchase requests affixed with the company stamp to Generic Technologies for the laptops, all of which were grey Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch with touch bars.
He then sold off the laptops for cash that he used to pay off debts and for personal expenses.
Between 26 February and 11 May last year, Chen submitted 11 purchase requests to Computer Infotech for the purchase of 26 laptops, worth $73,808.60. The laptops, all silver and grey Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch with touch bars, were delivered to his home address and later sold.
He did not make restitution.
After the laptops were delivered to him, Chen accessed without authorisation the emails of his colleagues to check whether Generic Technologies or Computer Infotech had sent any invoices to Irisnation in respect of outstanding payments for the laptops he ordered.
He also added the email domains of Generic Technologies and Computer Infotech to the spam list of Irisnation’s servers to prevent the emails demanding payment for the laptops from reaching his colleagues.
Chen’s lawyer Justin Ng, said that his client lived with his parents and became acquainted with female online streamers when he started looking at live stream platforms in 2018.
He was “lured” into making substantial financial gifts to the influencers and was fearful they would close down their channels, said the lawyer. Chen has since deleted the livestreaming applications to turn his life around and regrets his actions, said the lawyer.
Chen will be sentenced on 29 October.
For committing criminal breach of trust as an employee, Chen faces up to 15 years' jail and a fine. For cheating, he faces up 10 years' jail and a fine.
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