Elderly cheat gets 6 years' jail for scamming her next-door neighbour of $190,000

Teresa Tan Siew Poh, who pleaded guilty to three out of 11 charges of cheating, was on Friday (Aug 19) jailed for six years.
Teresa Tan Siew Poh, who pleaded guilty to three out of 11 charges of cheating, was on Friday (Aug 19) jailed for six years.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - A 68-year-old woman who cheated her neighbour next-door of $190,000 over a seven-month period was on Friday (Aug 19) jailed for six years.

Teresa Tan Siew Poh pleaded guilty to three out of 11 charges of cheating.

The remaining counts were taken into consideration in sentencing.

She was granted bail, pending an appeal against her sentence.

A community court heard that she hatched a plan to cheat her Telok Blangah Heights neighbour in 2012.

Tan repeatedly asked the 47-year-old woman to put money in bogus investment plans.

Tan lied that her daughter was a top bank executive, who was privy to investments with high returns.

The cheat even occasionally gave cash to her neighbour, to dupe her into believing that she was getting the returns on her investments.

However, the scammer also cheated the victim into giving back the purported returns she was given, for further supposed investments.

As part of her ruse, Tan even gave her neighbour fake documents with details of her bogus investment plans - such as the period of investment and projected returns.

Tan would then ask her to throw the documents away after reading them, saying they contained highly confidential information.

On Oct 15, 2012, the neighbour was conned into giving a $25,000 cheque to Tan, believing she would get a return of between 6 and 8 per cent within the next week.

The following day, the victim was duped into giving double that amount in cash to Tan, thinking she would get a $2,000 return after six months.

On March 13, 2013, the neighbour also gave Tan $11,000 in cash for an investment plan named "Daughter Wedding", believing she would get a return of $6,800, the court heard.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Norman Yew said some of the money Tan got from her neighbour actually went into paying purported returns to another victim, who had been similarly scammed by Tan.

It is not known how many people Tan cheated in all.

The next-door neighbour lost $135,000 in total. Tan has not returned any money to her.

In sentencing Tan, Community Court Judge Lim Keng Yeow noted her age, the total sum involved in the scam, Tan's previous convictions, and her mental disorder.

Tan suffers from dysthymia, or persistent mild depression, although this did not prevent her from exercising restraint and self-control, the judge found.

Tan was jailed for three years in 1984 for cheating involving $230,000, and for 10 years in 1995 for cheating involving more than $1.3million.

Said Judge Lim: "The current offences bear a very close resemblance to the modus operandi in her past offences. They are in fact very much a mere repeat of what she did in the past ... Despite having received highly substantial sentences ... she has again reoffended."

Tan could have been jailed for 10 years and also fined per charge.