Three fraudsters won a four-month cut in their sentences yesterday because of a magistrate's poor maths. Eastern Court magistrate Ian Candy miscalculated when he sentenced Sham Wai-shing, 41, Chin Tak-shun, 28, and Wan Sheung-sum, 42, to eight months' jail after they pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges yesterday. During sentencing, Mr Candy adopted a starting point of 18 months and was supposed to reduce it to one year after applying a one-third discount for the defendants' guilty pleas. However, he soon admitted: 'It's because of my lack of mathematical skills that I have given you the extra discount [to eight months]. Originally, I should have sentenced you to 12 months' jail for each charge. 'But as I have said it, I will sentence you to eight months in jail.' Sham and Wan, both unemployed, pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy in relation to bank deception. Chin, a housekeeper, pleaded guilty to two counts of the same charge. He received two eight-month sentences, to be served concurrently. The trio admitted conspiring with two people, known only as Sap Yee and On Chai, to fraudulently transfer $420,000 from a Taiwanese man's HSBC account to their own accounts between July 20 and 24 last year via Internet banking and cash cheques. When the victim told police he did not subscribe to e-banking services, officers discovered that someone had falsified his signature on HSBC application forms for a PIN number, a subscription to e-banking services and a request for cheque books. Co-accused casual worker Chan Kwok-hung, 31, transport worker Chow Kwok-yiu, 42, and jobless Wong Ho-yan, 28, each denied the same charge yesterday. Mr Candy adjourned their case to March 20 for a pre-trial review. The defendants were granted bail. In all, $520,000 was transferred to 10 other accounts, the court heard. In sentencing those who pleaded guilty yesterday, the magistrate said a prison term was appropriate. 'If I don't impose a sentence of imprisonment on you, it's easy to imagine how prevalent it [the offence] would become . . . these are serious offences and they would affect the public's confidence in e-banking services,' Mr Candy said. A Justice Department spokeswoman, Winnie Wong, said the department would study the judgment to see whether the sentence should be reviewed.