A 'stooge' employed by a bank fraud syndicate was jailed for six years yesterday by a District Court judge who was told that such crimes have become more prevalent. Wan Kwok-chu, 49, was part of a syndicate involved in a series of frauds on banks and companies using cheques bearing forged signatures between October last year and February, the court heard. The syndicate arranged to obtain new chequebooks for companies. Wan would then present cheques bearing forged signatures to banks, asking them to transfer money to a bogus account set up by the syndicate, prosecutor Kelvin Lee said. Banks were prevented from verifying the companies as their phone services were disrupted by the syndicate. Wan, who caused the banks and companies a total loss of more than $2 million, pleaded guilty before Judge Maggie Poon Man-kay on Thursday to three counts of using a false instrument, four of theft, three of attempted theft, three of dealing with property known or believed to be the proceeds of an indictable offence and one of using a forged identity card. The prosecution submitted statistics from the Commercial Crime Bureau showing the number of reported cases increased from 13 in 2000 to 21 in the first six months this year. Defence counsel Bok Tin-yuen said Wan had been used as a 'stooge' who would receive a reward of $1,000 for every successful transaction. But Judge Poon said Wan was an 'active key participant whose participation was essential to the conclusion of the fraud'. 'The whole scheme was planned with a high degree of sophistication . . . measures to minimise detection were deployed,' the judge said.