SINGAPORE - A 38-year-old man was sentenced to nine years' preventive detention on Friday (Oct 2) for cheating about 50 people in a "SEA Games" employment scam.
Mohmmad Karim Mat Amin, 38, who has been in and out of prison since 1993 for theft offences, had pleaded guilty to 15 charges of cheating and one count of theft. Another 32 charges were taken into consideration in sentencing.
A district court heard that Karim was working part-time at Suntec City in March this year when he conceived a plan to cheat victims by deceiving them into believing he had part-time jobs for them at the upcoming South-east Asian (SEA) Games.
He was facing financial difficulties then.
Karim informed his colleagues, including Ms Hafizah Mohamed Isa, that he was looking for people who were interested to work part-time at the regional sporting event from June 5 to 11.
He asked them to recommend people who were interested to him, and said the successful applicants would be paid $900 for about 12 hours each day.
He promised to pay Ms Hafizah about 6 per cent commission of $900 for each successful applicant she referred.
Believing what he said to be true, Ms Hafizah posted an advertisement on her Facebook profile to promote Karim's purported job offer.
Karim interviewed victims for the jobs at various locations. He claimed that he was a human resource manager from Just Recruit seeking poolside ushers for the games.
He collected $35 from each victim to attend a compulsory three-day training course at a company in North Bridge Road.
On May 18, Ms Hafizah and a group of about 30 others reported at the office for the "training course". She waited for a while before she called Just Recruit to find out if Karim was indeed working for them.
She was informed that other callers had been calling the company to ask about Karim, who had likely cheated them.
When she tried to call Karim, he did not respond. She reported the matter to the police.
Karim, a former supervisor at Mad Jack Restaurant at Parkway Parade, went to the restaurant on May 18 and stole an iPad worth $300 and $150 from the tip jar.
Karim's lawyer, Mr A. Revi Shanker, tried to persuade District Judge Christopher Goh not to send his client to corrective training or preventive detention, which his client was found fit to undergo, but to jail. He said the amount involved was small - $525 for the proceeded cheating charges.
Judge Goh said he did not think imprisonment or corrective training was appropriate in this case, given Karim's criminal record. He noted that Karim's previous sentence of 12 years' corrective training did not seem to have changed him much.
"I think it is expedient for the protection of the public that he be sentenced to a period of preventive detention," he said.
The maximum period of PD is 20 years, with no remission for good behaviour.