Jail for serial cheat who duped 18 people

She used fake iPhone and brokerage businesses to scam victims of $551,000

A woman perpetrated various scams against 18 victims and conned them out of a total of about $551,000 over 31/2 years.

Only $9,642 of the losses has been recovered, a district court heard.

Anita Siah Siang Joo, now 31, committed 123 cheating offences between February 2012 and November 2015, which began after her release from prison for criminal breach of trust. She had been given 12 months' jail in 2010 for misappropriating $113,078.

Yesterday, Siah, labelled a serial cheat by the prosecution, was sentenced to 59 months' jail after she admitted to 20 charges.

She perpetrated sales scams involving the sale of electronic gadgets and travel packages, and investment scams involving fictitious brokerage, iPhone and contact-lens businesses.

Among her victims were a 35-year-old Singaporean woman, who was conned out of $264,650, and a 28-year-old man, who lost $196,200.

In April 2011, Siah approached the woman about investing in a business buying and reselling iPhones. She claimed she had a supplier from whom they could buy the phones cheaply and resell the gadgets overseas for a higher price.

In fact, she did not have a supplier nor did she intend to use the victim's money to buy iPhones. Instead, she intended to induce the victim to deliver money to her for her own use.

Believing that she was investing in the business, the victim delivered a total of $169,250 to Siah's bank accounts on five occasions. When the victim did not receive any profit and asked for her money back, Siah gave her various excuses.

Siah also scammed the woman the following year by making her pay $2,800 for an exclusive travel package to the Maldives. The victim was made to transfer further sums when Siah lied that there were "various problems'' with the booking.

For each charge, Siah could have been jailed up to 10 years and fined.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 14, 2017, with the headline 'Jail for serial cheat who duped 18 people'. Print Edition | Subscribe