Tee Chin Yue, an NTU computer engineering student, was convicted last week for hacking Kopitiam cards and using them for profit.
Tee, a Malaysian studying in Singapore with an ASEAN scholarship, started his hacking career in 2015 while staying at an NTU hostel. Researching how to hack stored value cards for free air-conditioning, he later discovered that he could do the same with Kopitiam cards, allowing him to “purchase” food and cigarettes for free.
He then found that he could use the illegally obtained funds in his Kopitiam card to top up Singtel prepaid cards, leading him to sell prepaid card top-ups for profit. He used Carousell to facilitate his business operations, and managed to make approximately $34,000 in revenue.
In 2016, Tee’s hacked Kopitiam cards stopped working, prompting him to discard them for fear of getting caught. However, a police report had already been made, and investigations were underway. Tee was finally caught and arrested on 24 July 2017.
In court, Deputy Public Prosecutor David Koh said that Tee, motivated by greed, exploited his skills learned as a computer engineering student to cheat the system and evade the law. Tee’s defense lawyer, Edmond Pereira, argued that Tee deserved a second chance, and called Tee to be considered for probation. Pereira noted that Tee had written a solution to the exploit that he had found as part of his final-year thesis, and that Tee’s superior at Trusted Services had said that he would like to keep Tee in the company.
District Judge Eddy Tham decided to adjourn sentencing, to allow more time to decide Tee’s sentence. Tee has made full restitution to Kopitiam and has graduated from NTU. He is currently released on a bail of $10,000.