Two Singaporean women were sentenced yesterday for their part in an elaborate scheme to cash in counterfeit casino chips at the Marina Bay Sands resort.
Sisters Lee Wenjie, 34, was sentenced to a seven months custodial sentence and her sister Jeslyn Lee Wen Ting, 31, will be serving a five month stretch. The two women acted as runners in the conspiracy.
Although the sisters were only convicted of exchanging fake chips with a face value of forty thousand Singapore dollars (S$47,000) in total, the Marina Bay Sands is believed to have lost S$1.3 million, equivalent to three quarters of a million pounds sterling, in total from the scam.
According to court reports, Wenjie, who until recently ran a pushcart business at a local shopping mall, was recruited by the gang earlier in November. She then recruited her sister as an accomplice.
Wenjie was dropped off at the Marina Bay Sands on 22 November with two bags containing twenty fake S$1,000 chips each. Ting joined her soon after and the two set about converting the counterfeit tokens for cash.
The runners had been instructed to first exchange a few fake chips for genuine ones, then mix in the genuine chips with the remaining counterfeits before beginning the casing out procedure. To avoid raising any suspicion, the scammers never exchanged more than S$5,000 in any one transaction.
Once their work is done, the runners bring the money to their recruiter who would then pay them a percentage of what they had taken. Wenjie was said to have been paid S£700, Ting S$500.
Marina Bay Sands targeted
Opened in 2010, the S$8 billion Marina Bay Sands is billed as the world’s most expensive standalone casino. It is only of only two legal casinos in the city-state, the other being Resorts World Sentosa.
As one of the biggest gambling centres in Asia outside of Macau, the Marina Bay Sands is bound to be a target for scammers and con artists. No doubt the gang that hired Wenjie and Ting will not be the last.
And other more exotic threats have plagued the casino, at least in the popular imagination. It was recently “destroyed” by aggressively militant aliens in the science fiction disaster film Independence Day: Resurgence.
Perhaps a ring of counterfeit chip makers is not so bad in the scheme of things.