27 months’ jail for woman who cheated friend of $130,000
In need of cash, an avid gambler convinced her friend to withdraw his entire Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings of more than $53,000 in 1999 and hand over at least $500 of his salary every month from 2000 to 2013.
Dishwasher Tan Hwee Ngo, now 71, claimed the money was for Singapore's late founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.
Petrol pump attendant Tan Soy Kiang, who has mild intellectual disability, believed her lies and did as he was told even though he earned between $700 and $1,300 a month.
The court earlier heard that the accused had cheated Mr Tan, now 76, of at least $130,000 in total.
The conwoman was sentenced yesterday to two years and three months' jail after District Judge Terence Tay found her guilty of 169 cheating charges in July.
The court heard that Mr Tan started working as a petrol pump attendant in 1992.
Mr Tan and Tan had a common friend, former cleaner Boo Sok Hiang, 71, also known as Ah Hiang.
In her submissions, Deputy Public Prosecutor Thiam Jia Min said Mr Tan and Madam Boo had been friends for nearly 30 years. She introduced him to Tan around May 1999.
Tan later claimed she needed money for Mr Lee. On May 11 that year, Mr Tan withdrew his entire CPF savings in the Ordinary Account.
More than $53,000 was then credited into his bank account the following month.
The DPP added: "Mr Tan sought Ah Hiang's assistance to withdraw the CPF monies from his... bank account and pass them to the accused. Consequently, Mr Tan entrusted Ah Hiang with his ATM card and personal identification number to make the withdrawals."
By using similar lies, Tan also managed to convince Mr Tan to hand over at least $500 of his salary every month.
In 2013, Mr Tan moved in with his niece, Madam Pamela Lim, and her husband. The couple then noticed that Mr Tan would borrow money from them and Madam Lim's mother almost every week. This struck them as peculiar since he earned money from his job and did not appear to have any expenses to foot.
Madam Lim found out from her mother that her uncle had withdrawn all his CPF monies when he turned 55 and the entire sum was gone. Madam Lim and her husband later checked this with Mr Tan, the court heard.
Madam Lim then lodged a police report on Feb 3, 2014.
During the trial, Tan tried to shift the blame to Madam Boo, who had died of heart disease on April 21, 2016, before the trial started. But the DPP noted that in an earlier police statement, Tan admitted she had cheated Mr Tan. She also admitted she needed the money to gamble.
Yesterday, the court heard that Tan will be appealing against her conviction and sentence. Her bail has been set at $20,000.
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