A self-employed man who conned his victims into believing that he was the brother of then Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Wong Kan Seng was sentenced to 41/2 years' jail yesterday for cheating them of a total of $520,000.
Wong Kok Keong, alias Wong Kock Khiang, 63, is out on $30,000 bail pending his appeal against the sentence. He had admitted to three cheating charges, with six other charges, mostly for obtaining credit while being an undischarged bankrupt, taken into consideration.
On Sept 27, 2007, he cheated three directors of Manor Construction by deceiving them into believing that he was the brother of then DPM Wong. He induced them to give him $180,000, which was 20 per cent of the "option to purchase'' price for a property in Yung Ho Road.
A month later, he duped them into handing over another $240,000 to buy preferential shares in a company. He has since returned $209,000 to Manor, leaving an outstanding balance of $211,000.
In 2011, he cheated Mr Chiam Teck Hwa, 48, by making him believe that he was DPM Wong's brother and saying he would invest the victim's $50,000 in a company, along with his own money.
Wong has paid Mr Chiam back, as well as a similar sum to one Tan Teik Chin, but this charge was considered during his sentencing.
In Mr Chiam's case, Wong claimed he had a project to set up a company to run dialysis centre units in a hospital group and in Marine Parade. After Mr Chiam handed a cheque for $50,000 to Wong, he found out through a search that there was no record of the company, Grace Asset Management. He also found out that Wong was not related to DPM Wong and asked for his money back.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Hon Yi said the amounts involved were substantial, and that Wong was motivated by personal profit. Calling him a serial cheat, he said Wong resurrected his old methods and perpetrated the same scam on the victims. In 2003, Wong was jailed for 53 months for cheating, dishonest misappropriation and obtaining credit as a bankrupt.
Wong's lawyer Edmond Pereira said his client's ill health in recent years had resulted in increasing medical costs. His finances were crippled because his businesses had failed due to the adverse publicity. He said the father of three was remorseful and had cooperated with the authorities.
Wong could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined for each of the 2007 offences; and jailed for up to 10 years and fined for the 2011 offence.