Ex-IT manager admits to stealing laptops and claims he spent the money on female livestreamers on the internet

Ex-IT manager admits to stealing laptops and claims he spent the money on female livestreamers on the internet

Chen Weizhou’s lawyer told the court on Monday (Oct 11) that his client became acquainted with female online livestreamers and turned to these offences as he was “lured into making substantial financial gifts” to them. Chen, 34, pleaded guilty on Monday to one count of criminal breach of trust by misappropriation and two counts of cheating, with a fourth charge taken into consideration.

SINGAPORE: An IT manager embezzled 17 laptops from his company and sold them off, before tricking two firms into delivering 40 laptops worth S$111,000 to him on the pretext that his company had ordered them.

The court heard that Chen began working as an IT manager for Irisnation Singapore in 2018. He was responsible for all the IT equipment in the company and had the access key to the company’s server room. He was also in charge of maintaining and procuring computer equipment.

Between December 2019 and May 2020, he misappropriated 17 laptops by taking them home from the server room. No one questioned him due to his position as IT manager, and he subsequently sold the laptops for S$11,500 on Carousell, using the money for his debts and personal expenses.

Between November 2019 and January 2020, Chen deceived Generic Technologies into believing that Irisnation authorised the purchase of 14 laptops worth S$37,203.90 from them.

Chen submitted eight purchase requests to Generic Technologies, affixing his company stamp on them and deceiving Generic Technologies into delivering the 14 laptops to his home address. Chen sold the 14 MacBooks for cash. He performed a similar trick on another company, Computer Infotech, by cheating them into delivering 26 laptops worth S$73,808.60 to him between February and May last year.

After receiving the laptops, he accessed the email accounts of his managing director, finance manager and finance assistant to check for any invoices from Generic Technologies or Computer Infotech.

He then added the email domains of both companies to the spam list of Irisnation’s servers, to block their emails demanding payment for the laptops from reaching his colleagues. Nevertheless, the finance manager lodged a police report in June 2020 over the unauthorised purchase of laptops that later went missing. “He also took steps to cover the offences – including hacking into his colleagues’ email and blocking emails from the victims by placing them on the spam list for his company’s server, to ensure that the victims did not send invoices for outstanding payments to his colleagues,” said Deputy Public Prosecutor Suhas Malhotra.

Defence lawyer Justin Ng asked for 18 months’ jail instead. He said his client lives with his parents and became acquainted with “certain female online livestreamers” when he started looking at livestreaming platforms in 2018. He was “lured into making substantial financial gifts to these influencers”, said Mr Ng. He added that his client was “fearful” that the influencers would close down their channels, and that this snowballed over time, resulting in his offences. Mr Ng said his client pleaded guilty at the first chance and his career has been affected by the crimes. He has since deleted all the livestreaming applications from his devices and is “committed to change”, he said.

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