Man jailed over mobile phone contracts scam

SINGAPORE - A serial cheat facing financial difficulties was jailed for 3 1/2 years on Friday after cheating people of almost $300,000 in a mobile phone contracts scam.

Enticing them with quick cash, Sng Boon Chye got 95 victims to sign up for phone plans between March 2010 and April 2013, in return for handing over the devices they got. Some were referred to Sng by earlier victims. He had promised them commissions, based on the number of phones obtained.

The 34-year-old, who pleaded guilty to 35 of 181 cheating charges, then sold the items at a second-hand shop. No devices were recovered, and Sng has not returned any of the money.

Sng's jail term includes two months for criminal breach of trust in February last year, after he abused his position as assistant manager at Hei Sushi restaurant in Tai Seng Street and pocketed $14,826.20. He has returned this amount in full.

The court heard that Sng would hand victims three to low-four-digit sums in return for the devices, which largely comprised iPhones and iPads. But he reneged on promises to pay his victims' subscription and termination fees, leaving them saddled with unwanted telco contracts.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ang Siok Chen pointed out Sng had hatched his scheme over a long period of times. He abused the trust of his victims, two of whom were duped as many as five times.

In mitigation, Sng's lawyer said his client had been suffering from kidney stones and needed money for his medical expenses. He misappropriated the sushi restaurant's money to pay for renovation works on his Housing Board Flat in Sengkang.

Sng, who is married with three children, could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined for each count of cheating. For criminal breach of trust, he could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined.