SINGAPORE: An elderly church warden who cheated her church friends and other seniors, including a cancer patient, out of more than S$1 million was sentenced to six years and two months' jail on Tuesday (Jan 29).
The bulk of the money came from one victim, a 71-year-old woman who was cheated of S$979,000 of her life savings.
Ng Kwee Huay, 70, pleaded guilty to 23 charges of cheating, with another 106 charges taken into consideration, involving S$1,081,000 in total.
NG TRICKED VICTIMS WITH FAKE INVESTMENT PROJECTS
The court heard that Ng, a bankrupt with previous forgery and theft convictions, tricked her victims into handing over their money between 2011 and 2015 by asking them to invest in construction and government projects in Myanmar, Australia and Thailand that did not exist.
Her biggest victim, Ms Alice Chua, whom she had met at St Joseph's Church, handed over sums ranging between S$10,000 and S$75,000 for multiple investments, in the hope of making enough profit to purchase a property.
To persuade Ms Chua to invest with her, Ng told her that she would be able to purchase a property in two years or less with the profits she earned from her investments.
Ng also promised Ms Chua that she would transfer one of her own three houses to her if the investments did not do well.
In the same span of time, Ng returned about S$120,000 to Ms Chua on the pretext that these were returns from the investments. She did so to convince Ms Chua of the existence and profitability of the investments and encourage her to continue handing over her money for investment.
Ms Chua became suspicious only around February 2016, when she tried to withdraw some of the principal sums invested to pay for a car, only to be met with repeated stalling by Ng.
Ms Chua lodged a police report against Ng in October that year.
NG'S OTHER VICTIMS INCLUDED CANCER PATIENT
Ng's other victims were cheated of between S$1,600 and S$22,000 each. Among the victims were a 68-year-old retiree from church and a 66-year-old friend who had breast cancer.
Ng said she used the money to roll her debts and pay off other people whom she had similarly cheated into investing with her.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Pei Wei had asked for seven years' jail, saying that several of the victims trusted Ng as either a friend or a respected member of the church.
She added that Ng was a "habitual and recalcitrant cheat" whose offences were premeditated.
Ng, who was declared bankrupt in 2002, has been convicted for crimes of dishonesty, including a 2005 conviction for criminal breach of trust, for which she received seven months' jail.
In 2003, she was convicted of forgery and was given three months' jail and fined.
Ng's defence lawyer asked for three to five years' jail, pointing out Ng's age and that the bulk of the money that was cheated was from one victim.
The prosecutor in response said that the mitigating value of her age must be balanced against the need to ensure that older offenders get the punishment that is in line with the gravity of the offences committed.
For each count of cheating, Ng could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.