Fortune teller jailed for cheating women of cash and jewellery

A fortune teller and temple medium who duped three victims of more than $40,000 in cash and almost $9,000 worth of jewellery was jailed for 20 months yesterday.

Soh Kok Ping, 50, pleaded guilty to a charge of cheating and two counts of criminal breach of trust. He admitted to a fourth similar charge, which was taken into consideration during sentencing.

A district court heard that Soh worked at a makeshift fortune teller stall at Block 102, Yishun Avenue 5 and at an unregistered in-house temple at Block 407 Fajar Road.

In June 2013, he was entrusted with gold jewellery by a 61-year-old woman who wanted him to find out the value of the items for her. She had earlier paid Soh to pray for her husband who had a stroke, and trusted the medium as she felt that her husband had become better.

But Soh pawned the jewellery and spent the $8,890 he made on his housing expenses and gambling.

The next month, after the elderly woman's husband died, Soh asked her to invest in Jia Jia Shui Confectionery, located at Block 201D, Tampines Street 21, which was owned by his friend, Mr Yap Kah Teck.

She gave Soh $30,000, but he never passed Mr Yap any money.

In May 2013, Soh also cheated a 50-year-old woman out of $10,000.

He said God had told him to instruct her to donate rice to the needy in order to ward off bad luck. He told her the rice would be distributed to the needy at a temple event at the end of the year. But he never bought rice for the poor with the money.

In September that year, he also tricked a 56-year-old woman into giving him $500, claiming that he was collecting donations to buy food for the poor.

The maximum penalty for criminal breach of trust is seven years' jail and a fine. The maximum punishment for cheating and dishonestly inducing a person to deliver property is 10 years' jail and a fine.

Amir Hussain

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 23, 2016, with the headline 'Fortune teller jailed for cheating women of cash and jewellery'. Print Edition | Subscribe