Two UK nationals to serve six months in Malaysian prison for conning Austrians into buying shares of non-existent ‘Devon Energy Corp’

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

SEBERANG PERAI, March 17 — Lloyd George Bedwell, 48, and Roger Hoi Wing Wu, 46, had a plan to make easy money and perhaps imagined they could spend it in Penang, regularly ranked as one of the top 15 islands for retirement worldwide.

The two citizens of the United Kingdom had come to Malaysia and joined an international “investment” syndicate headquartered in Thailand that also has bases in George Town, Penang since 2016, as well as the Klang Valley.

All they had to do was contact several people on a list provided by the syndicate’s Thai headquarters and provide a prospectus of the investment for a company called Devon Energy Corporation and handle the bank transactions of the payment for the shares from the prospective buyers.

But the easy money dream ended for Bedwell and Hoi today.

Both men found themselves in the dock this morning, charged with cheating two Austrians on December 16 last year and January 5 this year out of A$17,564 (RM52,797) at Lot 7, Level 4, Island Plaza Tower, Jalan Tanjung Tokong in Penang.

Bedwell and Hoi pled guilty when the charges, framed under Section 417 of the Penal Code for cheating, were read aloud to them in English before Sessions Court judge Zulhazmi Abdullah.

They were sentenced to six months in jail for each of the two counts of cheating, to be served concurrently; and fined a total of RM100,000 each.

The judge ordered their jail sentence to be served from the date of their arrest on February 21.

According to the charge sheet, Bedwell and Hoi had cheated an Austrian, Trevor Ronald John Curtis, into handing them A$8,991.92 (RM27,044) by promising a high profit in a short period of time through the purchase of shares in Devon Energy Corporation.

They were also charged with scamming another Austrian, Kimberley John Buist Walker, into handing them A$8,573 by promising a high profit in a short period of time through the purchase of shares of the same company.

But Devon Energy was found to be a non-existent company.

A third accomplice, whose name was given as Jacob Yazdi and whose nationality was not disclosed, is at large.

According to the facts of the case, the modus operandi of this syndicate bear a striking resemblance to many other scams that have formed worldwide.

Syndicate members in the bases — called “boiler rooms” — are tasked to call up individuals in a name list provided by headquarters and read out a script about the sale of shares of several companies from different parts of the world.

Once a victim shows interest, the caller will send an email containing a fake prospectus with details of the company and if the victim agrees to purchase the “shares”, the caller will provide a bank account number for the victim to submit payment for the purchase of the shares.

Investigations revealed that Bedwell, jointly with Yazdi who is believed to be the manager of the boiler room, contacted Curtis on December 16 last year, where the latter was cheated into purchasing 100 units of Devon Energy Corporation shares at a value of US$60.06 (RM269) per unit bringing the total to US$6,096.09 including administrative costs.

Curtis had transferred Australian currency of A$8,991.92 from his personal account to a RHB Bank Bhd account under the name MB International Sdn Bhd.

Bedwell, with Yazdi, contacted Walker on January 5 this year where she was similarly scammed into transferring A$8,573 into the same bank account number.

Hoi had confirmed the transfer of the funds by the victims and informed the syndicate headquarters in Thailand of the funds transferred.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) conducted an operation on February 21 at several of the boiler rooms in Penang and Klang Valley where Bedwell and Hoi were arrested.

Investigations revealed that the syndicate had scammed thousands of victims from all over the world.

Local media previously reported that five UK citizens and two Filipinos were among 10 individuals arrested by the MACC in the raid on February 21.

The operation, named Op Tropicana, led by MACC, saw 24 locations in Penang and Kuala Lumpur raided including three call centres, with two located in Kuala Lumpur and one in Penang.