A 38-year-old man cheated about 50 people by promising them part-time jobs for the SEA Games and collecting money from them for a purported training course.
Mohammad Karim Mat Amin, who conned victims out of a total of some $1,600, was yesterday given nine years' preventive detention for cheating and theft. He had admitted to 16 of 48 charges. The former restaurant supervisor has been in and out of jail over the years for a litany of theft offences. He was last given 12 years' corrective training in 2002, and released last year.
The court heard that he was working part-time at Suntec City in March this year when he noticed a lot of advertisements for the then upcoming SEA Games. He then came up with a plan to cheat victims by deceiving them about part-time jobs at the event, as he was then facing financial difficulties.
He asked his colleagues, including Ms Hafizah Mohamed Isa, to recommend people who were interested to work at the event from June 5 to 11.
He promised her about 6 per cent commission of the $900 to be paid to each successful applicant for about 12 hours of work each day.
Believing what he said to be true, Ms Hafizah posted an advertisement on her Facebook profile to promote Karim's false job offer.
Karim interviewed victims for the jobs at various locations. He claimed he was a human resource manager from Just Recruit which was hiring poolside ushers for the upcoming Games. He told them their duties would include handing out towels to the athletes and replenishing food and drinks at receptions.
He would record the applicants' details in his notebook and append their photos beside the entries he had recorded. After the interviews, he would collect $35 for a three-day training course, two sets of uniforms and a commemorative ez-link card.
On May 18, Ms Hafizah and a group of about 30 turned up at an office in North Bridge Road for the training. She found out it was a scam after calling Just Recruit, and made a police report after failing to contact Karim.
Karim's lawyer A. Revi Shanker pleaded with the court to impose a jail sentence instead of corrective training or preventive detention.
Karim told the court he had attended programmes and courses during his last stint in jail, and had changed a lot. But when he was released, he had a "culture shock'' . He said he tried to seek help from various organisations as he had no money to pay for his utilities and HDB loans. He was also living alone and needed to support his sister, who has nine children.
In passing sentence, District Judge Christopher Goh said he did not think imprisonment or corrective training was appropriate in this case, given Karim's criminal record.
He noted that corrective training did not seem to have changed Karim. He also said the offences were not done on the spur of the moment, but were planned to ensure the lowest chance of detection.