Ex-Singtel worker gave customer data to loanshark to stop harassment

Wan Ting Koh
·Reporter
·4-min read
The Singtel Building in Singapore
The Singtel Building in Singapore. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — At the behest of an unlicensed moneylender who had been harassing his family, a Singtel assistant manager accessed his employer’s system to retrieve customers’ personal details for the loanshark.

Pleo Sherwin Cubos, 40, then screened the details of 27 customers and provided six of these to the loanshark.

The Filipino was jailed for three months, three weeks and fined $30,000 on Wednesday (30 December) after he pleaded guilty to one charge of criminal breach of trust as a servant by misappropriating three Apple iPads belonging to Singtel, and one charge of assisting an unlicensed moneylender in his illicit business by screening records of Singtel customers.

One charge of accessing the customer records without authority was taken into consideration for his sentencing.

Cubos was fired by Singtel on 29 May this year.

A Singtel spokesperson said, "We take customer data privacy very seriously and have zero tolerance to any breach. Once we found out, we promptly reported to the police and terminated his employment."

Before his termination, Cubos worked as a team leader of a sales team at Singtel, earning a base monthly pay of $5,000. As part of his work, he was issued with an account and access rights to Singtel’s system, which contained the personal data of its customers.

He was also entrusted with property, including an iPad, a phone, and a laptop, for work purposes.

In late January this year, Cubos responded to an advertisement for loan facilities on Facebook as he was in need of money and borrowed $500.

He was instructed to pay $350 as interest per week until he was able to repay the principal sum of $500.

However, he was unable to repay his loan and began to take up more loans, accruing a debt of $3,000 from five different loansharks over two weeks.

He began to be harassed by the loansharks, who sent him footage of a house being set on fire and an unknown person standing outside his apartment.

One of the unlicensed moneylenders, known to him as Alan, also used a fake Facebook account to contact his family members and friends, informing them of the money he owed.

Eventually, Alan asked Cubos to screen some handphone and identity card numbers to retrieve details from Singtel’s system, including addresses and particulars of these customers’ next-of-kin, in exchange for the harassment to stop.

Cubos complied, and screened the records of 27 customers between 20 February and 25 April. He then retrieved the details of six customers and gave them to Alan, despite knowing that this was in breach of Singtel’s data disclosure rules.

His supervisor was first alerted to his misdeeds after Cubos told him that he was involved with an unlicensed moneylending syndicate.

Cubos’s family members had also said that they were unable to reach him, while his colleagues said that he owed them money.

Concerned about Cubos’s behaviour, the supervisor checked the audit logs and found that Cubos had screened multiple customers within a short span of time. He confronted Cubos, who admitted to assisting the loanshark to obtain persona details. Cubos was immediately suspended and a police report was lodged.

After he was suspended, the supervisor arranged to meet Cubos for the latter to return his work devices and two additional iPads that he had collected from two subordinates and was supposed to return. However, Cubos did not show up to the meeting and became uncontactable.

Cubos had collected the two iPads, valued at $1,243 in total, from the two subordinates in March. He pawned them, together with his own work iPad then used the money for his own expenses.

Cubos eventually returned his workphone but it was damaged. A sum of $450 was deducted from his salary to off-set the cost of the three iPads and an additional $170.62 was recovered from him to pay for the damaged handphone, in addition to excess data charges incurred on these devices.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Emily Koh sought a jail term of five months, three weeks and a fine of $30,000, stating that Cubos had abused his position of trust and had showed little regard and concern for the company after disappearing.

Cubos’s lawyer, A Rajandran, said his client was remorseful, saying that he had assisted Alan out of fear.

Cubos had made a police report about the loanshark harassment on 3 March but the police were unable to assist him, said the lawyer.

“He will face incarceration and deportation and will be barred from returning to Singapore, his hopes for his family have been shattered. He had a well-paying job in Singapore earning about $5,000 a month,” said the lawyer, who added that Pleo rose through the ranks at Singtel.

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