Bogus reporter jailed 6 months for cheating

Man told stallholders he wanted to write food reviews, lied about franchise deal

Pretending to be a journalist from Chinese-language newspaper Shin Min Daily News, Malaysian Goh Ting Chee cheated two stallholders of $3,400 in total.

Goh, 39, also duped a third victim of $2,000 after convincing him that he could help with a franchise proposal.

Yesterday, Goh was jailed for six months, having pleaded guilty on Sept 4 to two counts of cheating involving $4,900. A third cheating charge involving $500 was considered in sentencing.

The court heard that Goh visited Tong Kee Cooked Food stall at Tiong Bahru Market on May 23 this year. He told one of its owners, Mr Tan Shen Chang, 42, that he was a Shin Min reporter, and said that the dumpling soup sold at the stall had been selected for "certification" as it was "among the best in Singapore".

The next day, Goh returned to take photos of three dishes that Mr Tan had prepared for a purported review. Goh said a "food recognition certificate" for 2017 to 2019 would also be issued.

He told Mr Tan and his wife that he would publish the review on an online platform and requested a one-off payment of $2,900 as a maintenance fee for the website.

After getting the cash, Goh left and did not respond to the couple's attempts to contact him.

Goh also cheated Mr Yeo Yeow Siang, 45, the co-owner of Xiang Lai Herbal Bak Kut Teh Claypot in Bukit Panjang Ring Road, in a similar manner on May 29, claiming that he wanted to write a review on a food lovers' website, Malaysiabest.my.

He also lied that a company known as Alexis Food Industry was interested in entering into a franchise agreement with Xiang Lai and expanding its business.

Goh said Mr Yeo had to prepare a franchise proposal in two days and offered to get a friend to help him with the draft for $2,800.

On June 3, Goh asked Mr Yeo to transfer $2,000 to him.

On June 22, Goh again pretended to be a Shin Min reporter and approached a stallholder at Pek Kio Market and Food Centre, and cheated her of $500.

Goh made full restitution yesterday. For each count of cheating, he could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 23, 2017, with the headline 'Bogus reporter jailed 6 months for cheating'. Print Edition | Subscribe