Shopping sprees can be so fun, especially if you’re just swiping your credit card mindlessly for every purchase as you stroll along the various malls and millions of shops on Orchard Road.
Beep. Beep. Beep. It’s so simple, you won’t even feel the pinch every time you swipe and hear that sound… or not.
While most of us would love to be able to become rich to the level where we could do that without giving a second thought to our depleting bank account balance, unfortunately, life doesn’t always work that way.
One lady who happened to encounter an opportunity in which she could do just that took the chance and ended up thwarted by her dinner choice of the night.
30-year-old Loke Choy Yen, who worked at Jurong East Mall, went to the toilet on the fourth floor during a work break on 19 Nov last year and found something very unexpected and valuable – an OCBC NTUC Visa credit card lying on the cubicle floor.
Of course, she couldn’t just leave it lying there without an owner. So she took it with her back to the Penang Culture restaurant where she worked, and charged a single cent to the card just to try it out, then voided the transaction completely.
Despite her colleague’s advice to turn over the lost card to OCBC, which had a branch just down in the basement of the same mall, Loke didn’t wish to at all and did quite the opposite.
Free Shopping Spree
Later that afternoon, she bought a set of children’s clothes worth $48 at Kiddy Palace at Westgate Mall, which was just next door. It was presumed to be for her 21-month-old daughter.
She must’ve felt like ‘hey, why not buy more while I’m at it?’ for she returned to the same store 10 minutes later and purchased something again for $43.80.
Spending and shopping are addictive indeed, especially if the money getting deducted isn’t yours, huh?
Over the course of the next two weeks, Loke had fun with charging purchases to the stolen credit card, which included shoes from the Flip Flop Shop at JCube, groceries from Sheng Siong supermarket and even a beer from the Duke Shanghai Pub.
She seemed to have considered her actions very carefully, however, by not spending more than $50 for every transaction she made with the card to avoid detection that spending large amounts of money can bring about.
Ruined By A Burger
Eventually, her days of freeloading came to an end all because she attempted to buy a burger worth $3.20 with the card at a 7-Eleven outlet in Kampong Bahru on 4 Dec.
The transaction got declined, possibly because the owner had notified the bank to deactivate the card. Through CCTV footage in the store, Loke was identified and ended up getting arrested on 18 Dec.
Well, she had it coming.
The charges she racked up with her purchases totalled to $455.72 and she has since made proper full compensation to the original owner of the card.
Charged In Court
Loke was charged in court for a total of a whopping 23 charges, and pleaded guilty to one charge under the Computer Misuse Act and another for dishonest misappropriation on 3 June. She also got convicted for six charges of cheating, and 15 others will follow.
Her lawyer, Paul Ong, said that Loke barely makes enough and doesn’t come from a rich family, even though she doesn’t actually have financial difficulties. He pleaded for a fine of not more than $1000 for her.
He also shared how she was the sole breadwinner of her family as her husband is unemployed and they still have a young daughter to take care of. Loke’s mother-in-law also apparently has diabetes and kidney failure.
Tough blow, man.
“She is not saying she should not be punished. But at the same time, she has no (past criminal) record and has been a law-abiding citizen till now,” said Mr Ong.
He also emphasised that the card wasn’t stolen but had simply been picked up and it was a lapse of judgement on her part to not return it and keep using it, hoping that punishment will be meted out with mercy.
Her final sentence will take place on 24 June.
For the charges she faces (and that’s a lot), she could face up to two years of jail time and/or jailed for misusing someone else’s credit card, as well as three years of jail time and a possible fine for every charge of cheating. To top it all off, she could also be fined up to $5000 and/or jailed up to two years for using the credit card at the self-checkout kiosk at the supermarket.
Good luck to her, and let’s hope she learnt her lesson.
No matter how cash strapped you are, there are better ways of making a living – this isn’t the way to go unless you want to end up like this hamburglar.