Man duped former schoolmate in 'branded items' scam

An unemployed man short on cash devised a plan to dupe his former schoolmate into believing that he could get branded items like a Lady Dior handbag and a Rolex Submariner watch on the cheap and resell them at a higher price.

Soon Yong Jie, 28, proposed the business plan to Ms Law Xue Ying, 26, assuring her of guaranteed profits if she would pay for the items first and then resell them at a higher price to buyers. He also lied that he had ready buyers for these luxury items.

Soon told her that he would handle all the transactions and all she needed to do was transfer money to the bank accounts that he had provided, as payment for the items.

In all, Soon cheated Ms Law of $66,178 on 21 occasions and has made restitution of only $2,000.

On Wednesday, he was sentenced to 17 months' jail after he admitted to seven of 21 charges of cheating.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Grace Goh Chioa Wei said that Soon and Ms Law were schoolmates at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. After they graduated, they kept in touch as they worked in the same industry.

Investigations showed that Soon was in debt and needed money. So he devised the plan to get quick money by conning the victim into believing that, owing to his connections in the fashion industry, he was able to get branded items on the cheap.

Between Jan 23 and Feb 29 last year, Ms Law transferred between $3,385 and $7,500 each time to Soon's POSB or OCBC Bank accounts.

His lawyer, Mr Rajan Supramaniam, said that his client was very remorseful and had apologised to the victim.

He added that Soon made several attempts to make full restitution but was unable to raise the money.

Soon was allowed to defer sentence until April 17 to perform religious rites for his grandfather.

He could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined on each charge.

The remaining 14 charges were considered in sentencing.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2017, with the headline 'Man duped former schoolmate in 'branded items' scam'. Print Edition | Subscribe