'Heartless' swindler's jail term doubled

The judge noted that Tan had spent the $8,500 at a casino, said it was hard to be sympathetic towards him.
The judge noted that Tan had spent the $8,500 at a casino, said it was hard to be sympathetic towards him.PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

A former insurance agent, who swindled an elderly factory worker he had known for 25 years, yesterday had his jail term doubled from nine months to 11/2 years by the High Court after prosecutors appealed.

Justice Tay Yong Kwang agreed that 45-year-old Tan Peng Khoon had shown a "totally heartless attitude" in taking advantage of 61- year-old widow Lim Choon Hoay.

The court heard that over the years, Madam Lim, who could not read English and earned only $600 a month, had lent $150,000 to Tan.

In 2011, he duped her into signing forms to surrender a life insurance policy for about $2,000 and to take out a $6,500 loan against another policy. He made her add him as a joint holder of her bank account, and withdrew the money after depositing the cheques issued in her name.

Justice Tay, noting that Tan had spent the $8,500 at a casino, said it was hard to be sympathetic towards him. The judge added it was shameful that Tan tricked Madam Lim into transferring more than $50 to him for "postage" when she wanted her identity card back.

Tan had taken her identity card when he got her to sign the forms. He never gave it back to her and she had to pay $100 to replace it.

In February this year, Tan was jailed for nine months by a district court after he was convicted of four counts of forgery and two counts of cheating. When the prosecution filed an appeal, he returned the money. But Deputy Public Prosecutors Alan Loh and Nicholas Tan argued it was too late as the surrendered policy has been terminated, causing Madam Lim to lose the coverage of at least $50,000.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 28, 2015, with the headline ''Heartless' swindler's jail term doubled'. Print Edition | Subscribe