Fugitive Ng Chong Lin impersonated lawyer for years in US

PHOTO: The Straits Times

To the individuals he helped with immigration matters, he was their lawyer, called to practise law in New York since 2000 and a professional of good standing.

Little did they know that the man they depended on to represent them to the federal authorities had secrets.

He was using someone's name and was not even a lawyer to begin with.

His own name was Ng Chong Lin and he had fled Singapore in June 2003, two days before his appeal against a jail sentence for forgery and other charges was to be heard.

All this emerged in the High Court yesterday when that appeal, shelved for 13 years, came up for hearing.

For seven years, Ng, who was then 31, lived a lie in the United States. He had at least seven aliases, one of them Daveng - an amalgamation of Dave Ng, which he had been known by - Wee.

His story could have been a movie plot. Ng set to practising immigration law in New York City, using the name and registration number of a real attorney to file documents to federal authorities on behalf of individuals in various immigration matters between October 2006 and March 2009.

In 2010, Daveng Wee was caught out by the US authorities and jailed 48 months for aggravated identity theft in impersonating an attorney, among other things.

His fingerprints, sent to Singapore in 2013, revealed his true identity. All his attempts to overturn his conviction failed and he was deported in May last year, when he was arrested and taken into custody.

As part of their arguments for the appeal, prosecutors provided details of his offences in the US and succeeded in having the information admitted as fresh evidence.

However, the matter was adjourned and will be heard after a new trial against Ng - this one for using a false passport to leave Singapore in 2003.

In March 2003, he had pleaded guilty in a district court to forgery and other charges related to a company in which he was a director.

In April 2003, after he was sentenced to three years and three months' jail, he filed an appeal.

He was granted bail and his passport handed to the Commercial Affairs Department.

In June 2003, Ng applied for a passport and was issued one which bore his photograph but the particulars of one Wee Pui Kee. On June 22, 2003, two days before his appeal was to be heard, he used this passport to leave for New York.

Besides pretending to be a lawyer, he claimed to have attended schools in New York when he applied for temporary residence in the US in 2007.


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