'Mr Right' gets 20 months' jail for cheating

She thought he was the late-arriving "Mr Right", but he saw her as another prey.

Tay Kok Hua, 57, was jailed 20 months yesterday for cheating cleaner Tan Joo Eng, 79, of her monies during their short-lived romance.

It began in June 2006 when Tay met Madam Tan, who was single, near Kreta Ayer Road where she worked. He gave her his mobile number, and they would contact each other and meet several times.

Subsequently, the pair started a romantic relationship. He then told her of his financial difficulties and began to ask her for loans. She agreed and would give him cash or withdraw it from her bank account. These loans ranged from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

On Aug 18, 2006, Deputy Public Prosecutor Victoria Ting said, Madam Tan felt uncomfortable about the amount of money she had loaned to Tay.

He issued her a cheque for $15,000, meant to repay her for the loans she had extended to him. He did this to induce her to continue lending additional sums to him.

She lent him further sums amounting to about $35,500.

The court heard the bank account which he used in his renovation business had been closed since 2002. Sometime after December 2006, Madam Tan tried to encash the cheque but it bounced.

She made a police report on Jan 11, 2008, that she had delivered a total of about $57,000 to him.

Tay, who is married without kids, was charged on Sept 26, 2008. He then absconded while on bail and was re-arrested in July last year.

Yesterday, he admitted to one charge of deceiving Madam Tan into believing that the cheque would be honoured, to induce her to deliver further loans of about $35,500 to him. Two other charges were considered during sentencing.

DPP Ting said no restitution has been made.

Seeking a sentence of at least 18 to 24 months' jail to be imposed, she said there is a need to protect elderly and vulnerable victims who are less likely to be savvy regarding the security of cheques or the likelihood of cheques being dishonoured, against offenders who may seek to exploit them.

She said Tay has a lengthy list of property-related antecedents dating back to theft in 1974. In 2003, he was jailed three years for forgery for the purpose of cheating. He re-offended shortly after his release from prison.

Tay could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined.

Elena Chong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2017, with the headline ''Mr Right' gets 20 months' jail for cheating'. Print Edition | Subscribe