SINGAPORE - A couple, first charged earlier this month with abetment of cheating a man of $38,800, were slapped with 28 more charges on Tuesday (March 15).
Ong Choon Lin, 66, a Singaporean, and his wife, Ng Kim Yew, 60, a Malaysian, are now accused of cheating more victims, bringing the total number to six, and the amount involved to $657,068.
The pair - both retirees - allegedly conspired with each other to dupe the victims into believing that a spiritual master from Thailand or Tibet would personally write a talisman dedicated to them, and dishonestly induced the victims to hand over various sums of money ranging from $688 to $38,800 each time.
All 29 alleged offences were committed between 2004 and last year.
The six were allegedly conned of a total of between $11,000 and $308,688 each.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Tay Jingxi suggested bail of $500,000 or $250,000 in two sureties for each of them.
But counsel Anil Balchandani said the amount was excessive, wholly unreasonable and absolutely arbitrary.
He said bail was not meant to be punitive but to secure attendance of the accused at trial or the next mention.
Disputing that the bail sum was arbitrary, DPP Tay told the court that the overall value was more than $650,000, and if convicted of the offences, the couple faced a jail term.
District Judge Eddy Tham fixed bail at $300,000 each. The couple's passports have been impounded and they are not to contact the victims while they are out on bail.
The case is fixed for a pre-trial conference on April 28.
The maximum penalty for the offence is 10 years' jail and a fine per charge.