Con artist sent back to jail for another 7 years

She cheated woman she met in hospital of more than $330k

A female con artist, previously jailed seven years for cheating, re-offended some eight months after her release from prison and will return to jail for another seven years after she cheated a patient she befriended in hospital of more than $330,000.

Wong Say Foon, 53, "clicked very well" with Madam Teo Tiam, 59, when they were staying at the same ward at Singapore General Hospital in April 2014.

They shared stories and woes about their families, marriages and medical problems.

During their time at the ward, Wong "regaled" Madam Teo with "glorious stories of her wealth and successful family", claiming among other things that she received a generous inheritance from her Mongolian grandfather and was building a bungalow in Bukit Timah.

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Madam Teo was discharged from hospital after five days.

But a week later, she returned for a medical check-up and looked up Wong, who was still warded.

At the ward, she saw Wong "grinning from ear to ear and laughing", claiming to have struck lottery.

Madam Teo, who had already been taken in by Wong's success stories, accepted Wong's offer of investment opportunities.

As instructed by Wong, she transferred some $337,300 into the con artist's bank account.

She did this via electronic transfers and by handing over cash over six days in April 2014.

Madam Teo later confided in her brother about the investments. He suspected something was amiss and Madam Teo alerted the police.

Swift action by the police in freezing the accounts of Wong and her husband allowed about $100,000 to be recovered.

But Wong had already used $207,666 within six weeks of Madam Teo's cash being transferred. Wong, who was charged with five counts of cheating, claimed Madam Teo lent her the money to settle outstanding debts and for future medical expenses.

But District Judge Lee-Khoo Poh Choo convicted Wong after finding her claims "too wishy-washy to be believed".

"Wong's evidence was a nest full of lies and inconsistencies. I had no doubt at all that she was fabricating and spinning tales," said the judge in decision grounds last month.

In 2009, Wong was convicted of cheating and jailed for seven years.

She re-offended barely eight months after her early release on Aug 12, 2013, for good behaviour.

In the 2009 case, the glib-talking ex-beauty salon owner was convicted and jailed for conning a family of $1.3 million.

Deputy Public Prosecutor M. Asoka pointed to several aggravating factors in the current case.

He said Wong was unremorseful, destroyed evidence by deleting messages from her mobile phone and had not made any restitution, among other things.

The judge also found that the factors cited by Wong in her mitigation plea "were aggravating rather than mitigating".

Among other things, Wong said she was depressed and had admitted herself to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH).

Said Judge Lee-Khoo: "The memo from IMH, however, stated that during her stay in IMH, the accused was observed to be chatty, cheerful, not depressed and helped other patients to make phone calls to their families."

Finding "an abundance of aggravating factors and nil mitigating factors", the judge sentenced Wong to jail terms ranging from six to 66 months on each of her five charges.

The judge ordered two of the sentences, totalling seven years, to run consecutively.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 01, 2017, with the headline 'Con artist sent back to jail for another 7 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe