Jail for ‘spiritual leader’ who cheated followers of over $7m, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Jail for ‘spiritual leader’ who cheated followers of over $7m

A purported spiritual leader, who duped her followers into handing her more than $7 million and forced some of them to eat human faeces as punishment, was sentenced to 10 years and six months’ jail on June 19.

Woo May Hoe, who had claimed to be a deity and had around 30 followers, pleaded guilty in May to three counts of assault and two cheating charges. Forty-five other charges were considered during sentencing.

The 54-year-old Singaporean headed a group that believed in spiritual leader Sri Sakthi Narayani Amma, according to court documents, which did not provide details about Amma.

She told her followers the monies would go to Amma’s society in India. Instead, Woo pocketed the monies from 2012 to 2020.

In earlier proceedings, Deputy Public Prosecutor Grace Chua told the court that many of Woo’s followers or their relatives were suffering from serious medical conditions.

According to Woo, it was crucial for her followers to clear their “bad karma”, and increase their “good karma” to improve their health and that of their loved ones.

She told them that they could do so by making payments to Amma’s society in India.

She also ordered them to perform acts of “worship” by buying houses, condominium units and cars, all of which she used for her own benefit.

Woo also directed about a third of her followers to move in with her. They had to serve her full-time, and take care of all her needs, including doing housework.

DPP Chua said that Woo punished followers who displeased her by hitting them with various objects such as paint brushes and canes, as well as “stabbing them with scissors, using pliers to pull out their teeth, forcing them to consume human faeces and making them jump off from a height”.

Among those Woo punished was a 43-year-old woman, who was identified in court documents as V2.

In 2019, Woo became upset with her over an undisclosed matter and took a bundle of five canes, repeatedly striking V2’s head and face with it.

Woo then told V2 to wash an injured eye with some “holy water” and stare directly at the sun.

The victim did as she was told and did not seek immediate medical attention as Woo forbade her from doing so.

V2 now requires lifelong follow-ups for possible glaucoma, or damage to the optic nerve, which connects the eye to the brain.

In October 2019, Woo became angry with V2 after finding out that the latter had borrowed $100 from an acquaintance without reporting the matter to her.

She ordered V2 to jump down from the second floor of a building to the first floor. The victim did as she was told and suffered fractures to both her ankles.

Between March and April 2020, Woo found out that V2 had visited her own mother without informing Woo.

Woo then told another follower, identified as V3, to use a pair of pliers to pull out three of V2’s teeth. Out of fear of suffering the same fate, V3 did as instructed.

Separately, Woo ordered several other followers to eat human faeces.

She was arrested in 2020 after some followers lodged police reports against her.

The DPP said Woo was found to be suffering from paranoid schizophrenia at the time of the offences.

But an Institute of Mental Health doctor found no contributory link between Woo’s mental state and her cheating offences.

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