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POLYGRAPH CASE STUDIES

    Presented below are 4 actual cases handled by Polygraph Investigative Services. They are intended to illustrate how our polygraph services can help businesses and organisations to solve difficult and complex cases. To maintain confidentiality, we have left out actual names.

Singapore News Report dated 23 December 2002 (excepts...) - The One Million Dollar Theft of Platinum

   YOU might not blink while telling a lie or two. But chances are you’ll be exposed when you’re up against this man and his machine. Retired Superintendent of Police Mr Koa Fung Chew, PPA, PBS,, 56 is a professional lie buster. Formerly the Chief Polygraph Examiner at the Ministry of Home Affairs, he now provides services that are one of a kind. For $850 per person, he will tell you - with a little help from his polygraph machine - if what you’ve just said was a lie.

    Ret. Supt Koa was certified as a polygraph examiner in 1977 by the American Institute of Polygraph, and has also trained other examiners. He worked at the Ministry of Home Affairs for more than 32 years. He set up his company, Polygraph Investigative Services, in November last year - one month after he retired from the Ministry of Home Affairs. And the first case he handled involved $1 million.

   A multinational company here had discovered 50 pieces of platinum alloy parts, used to manufacture disk drives, had disappeared. The problem was, up to 40 employees could have come into contact with the parts. Anyone of them could have been the culprit. With no evidence and a long list of suspects, the company decided to do some checking before calling the police. They roped in Ret. Supt Koa. Said Ret. Supt Koa: “The company even posted an in-house reward of $10,000 for information, but no-one came forward.”

    All 40 employees agreed to take the polygraph test. After he examined the tenth person, he knew he had his man. But he stressed it was not just the polygraph test results which led him to the conclusion. “I had my suspicions even before the test was conducted. He did not look me in the eye and was fidgeting all the while. When the test results were out and I said it was very likely that he was the suspect, he managed only very weak denial.”

    Ret. Supt Koa said a police report was then made. Questioned by the police, the machine operator broke down and confessed. It turned out the thief had been working with the supplier of the parts. The supplier’s general manager, his right-hand man, and his driver were all involved in scam. Some of the parts were found in the false ceiling of the manager’s office, while the rest had been sent to the US for the platinum to extracted and sold. The four men - all Singaporeans - were jailed. The disk manufacturer managed to recover $1 million from the supplier.

    But that’s not the end of the story. The tests also revealed that three other employees had stolen items such as tool boxes and office supplies.


    Ret. Supt Koa said most of the cases he handles involves crimes committed by employees. But he also provides tests for pre-employment and periodic staff screening. He recalled another case.

    In September, a restaurant owner found four instances of cash shortages in the register. The total amount was just over $100. But the owner was upset because the five employees who had access to the register had to equally make up for the shortages from their own pockets. Said Ret. Supt Koa: “The owner told me that although the amount stolen was not very big, it was a matter of principle.

    The first employee who came for the test was the most senior among the five. He turned out to the culprit and confessed after I confronted him with the results.” Ret. Supt Koa said the man was sacked, but no police report was made as the amount was small.


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The Golden Rooster Case - 2007

    In October 2007, a large software development company located in an Asian country sought help of Polygraph Investigative Services to identity the perpetrator(s) following the illegal transfer of USD $98,000 from an on-line casino system which they were upgrading. The name of the system server was “Golden Rooster”.

     The company’s work involved the integration of several newly developed games with an already operating on-line casino. A player, a member of the public, walked into one their arcades’ PC terminal and invested a few dollars to play their games. Shortly afterwards, he cashed out the USD $98,000 and disappeared without a trace.

     Investigations by the company revealed that there were several illegal transactions of small amounts before and after the USD $98,000 transaction. An examination of the computer logs and the web payout process pointed to an inside job, probably in collusion with outsiders although the culprit(s) had tried to make it look like an external break-in or a programming error.

     However a detailed examination of the internal computer logs failed to identity the culprit(s). Although the amount of money lost was relatively small in relation to this multi-million dollar project, the company was very worried about its reputation. As there were sub-contractors involved in the project, there was also the question as to who was to return the missing USD $98,000 to the casino operator.

     All the IT specialists involved in the project, a total of 15 software engineers volunteered for the polygraph tests. Polygraph tests on the 15 software engineers conducted eventually identified the culprit to be the System Administrator who had intimate technical knowledge of the system and the casino operations. When confronted with the test results, this employee agreed to pay back the money. The company eventually fired this employee and the company's reputation was saved.


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Large Theft At A Manufacturing Plant - 2012

    The client in this case is a large international manufacture of electronic parts in China with other plants located in several countries employing a total of 80,000 staff. The company had received information that their products – mobile phone covers, believed to be stolen, were openly sold over the Internet. The company subsequently conducted its own internal audit and investigation and learnt that many cartons of their mobile phone covers were stolen from one of their plants and sold to outside syndicates. However they were unable to uncover the culprits or modus operandi of the theft. The plant’s CCTV system did not reveal anything. One thing was sure - due to the tight security procedures laid down, the theft would not have been possible without the collusion of the factory guards.

    Polygraph Investigative Services was hired to conduct polygraph tests on 24 guards attached to the plant where the theft was believed to have taken place. All the 24 guard volunteered for the tests. As the plant was located overseas, our examiner conducted the tests on-site. Over 4 days of polygraph testing on the 24 guards, we managed to identity 3 of the guards to be involved. The company subsequently made a report to the police and the 3 guards were detained for questioning. The police subsequently managed to obtain admissions from the 3 guards and during follow-up operations, the buyer was arrested and 20 boxes of mobile phone covers worth USD $12,000 were recovered. The 3 guards together with the buyer were convicted and jailed.


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Multi-million Dollar Theft of Vintage Wine in 2013

     In January 2013, Polygraph Investigative Services was hired to deal with this case in Hong Kong. The client was the General Manager of a large Wine Cellar company in Hong Kong. The company stores vintage wine for customers and also operates an exclusive Clubhouse. This was the third time that vintage wine worth millions of Hong Kong dollars disappeared. On the first occasion in 2007, nearly HK $2 million worth of classic French wines belonging to a customer disappeared from the cellars. The wines included irreplaceable 1982 Chateau Petrus and Chateau Margaux. The case was reported the police and the company settled the matter with the customer through insurance payout. Police classified the case as 'lost property' and did not investigate further. The case was unsolved.

    The second theft happened in 2010. One case of 1982 Lafite Château Lafite-Rothschild worth a few hundred thousand HK dollars disappeared. A warehouse staff became a suspect because he came to work in a new car after the theft. The case was reported to the police but remained unsolved. The suspect was dismissed.

    Over a period of 12 to 18 months in 2012 - 2013, a large number of bottles of vintage wine worth more than a million HK dollars disappeared from the company members' wine cellar racks inside the Clubhouse. As this was an exclusive Clubhouse for rich people, privacy was paramount and hence there were no security cameras inside the Clubhouse.

    A total of 12 staff were interviewed and tested by Supt (Ret) Koa Fung Chew. All of them had free access to the Clubhouse wine storage area using security cards. The security cards were also sometimes shared amongst the 12 staff. All 12 staff gave written consent to take the tests. From polygraph testing carried out at the Clubhouse premises, Supt (Ret) Koa managed to pick out four Clubhouse staff who were involved in the theft of the wine. The four of them were the Club Manageress, Chief Waiter, Chief Waitress and a Waiter. The lie detector tests showed that the remaining 8 staff were innocent.

    When GM reported to the big boss (company owner), he wanted the four of them to be interrogated and confessions obtained in order to strengthen their case when reporting to the police. The GM decided to use to use deception to convince them to talk. That evening, after the Clubhouse closed, he got a contractor to plant a tiny pin-hole camera in the ceiling of the Clubhouse cellar. The ruse was that the camera was already there for some time.

    The next day, GM and Supt (Ret) Koa interviewed each of them individually. The ruse worked! Upon confronted with the hidden camera and test results all 4 staff gave written confessions. The Club Manageress also admitted to having inside knowledge of the theft in 2010. The police was immediately informed and all 4 staff were arrested by the police. Subsequently, some of the stolen wine were recovered. The buyer of the stolen wine, an ex-staff of the Clubhouse was also arrested. The GM was very pleased with the results and remarked that he should have engaged Mr Koa’s services in the earlier thefts.


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