Singaporean Teen Uses False Warranty Claims To Cheat Microsoft of S$192,900 in Laptops

A Singaporean teen has admitted to the crime of committing fraud against Microsoft by making false advance warranty claims to obtain laptops which he later sold.

Credit: Reuters

According to Channel News Asia, the accused was 16 at the time of the offences in 2017 and therefore cannot be named as part of the Children and Young Persons Act. Now 20, he pled guilty in court on Tuesday, 22 February, to one count of conspiring to cheat Microsoft and three counts of acquiring property from criminal conduct. Seven other charges are being considered in sentencing.


The teen conspired with one Justin David May, an American citizen who was based in the U.S. The two reportedly got acquainted through an online forum that discussed methods of exploiting warranty programmes of laptop makers.


Together, they hatched a scheme that involved buying the serial numbers of Surface laptops with valid warranties online for about US$25 and using those to make false warranty claims from Microsoft. The claims would indicate a U.S. address provided by May, where the replacements will be delivered to. After receiving the laptops, May would then consolidate them and ship them to the accused’s flat in Singapore. The American would keep one to two laptops for himself for every five to eight laptops that were delivered, as part of their agreement.


A total of 56 false advance warranty claims were submitted to Microsoft by the accused between August and October of 2017. This resulted in the company delivering 56 replacements to several U.S. addresses, amounting to USS$143,144 (S$192,900) in value.

Microsoft Surface Laptop. Credit: Microsoft

The accused sold the laptops he obtained from May on Carousell, priced between S$1,700 and S$2,500 each. He sold a total of 75 Microsoft Surface laptops on the platform, though investigations have yet to find where he obtained the other 19. He stated that he used what he earn from the sales to buy Bitcoin, but lost it all after the price of the cryptocurrency crashed in 2018.


May was charged in the U.S. in January 2018 for mail fraud against Microsoft. A few months later the Singapore Police Force’s Commercial Affairs Department was tipped by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) about how the accused conspired with May.


The teen is expected to face sentencing by next month. He made partial restitution of S$10,000 to Microsoft in August 2021. May, meanwhile, has already been sentenced to seven years and eight months in prison and is required to pay a restitution fine of more than US$4 million for his offences.

 
  • A Singaporean teen has admitted to the crime of committing fraud against Microsoft by making false advance warranty claims to obtain laptops which he later sold.

  • Conspiring with an American, the accused had Microsoft deliver 56 laptop replacements, amounting to S$192,900.

  • He pled guilty to his offences in court and faces sentencing next month.

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