Property agent gets 24 months' jail for rental scam

Property agent Goh Tzan En was sentenced to 24 months' jail on Tuesday. -- ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW
Property agent Goh Tzan En was sentenced to 24 months' jail on Tuesday. -- ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A property agent who cheated 26 victims in a rental scam was sentenced to 24 months' jail on Tuesday.

Goh Tzan En faced a total of 27 charges of cheating involving $91,474. One of them was for duping a 59-year-old Singaporean into believing he had to pay an extra $5,000 to buy an HDB flat in Jurong West Avenue 1.

The 49-year-old admitted to nine counts, with the remaining 18 taken into consideration during sentencing.

A district court heard that most of the victims cheated by Goh, who was then working at ERA Realty, were foreigners who had responded to online advertisements he posted on renting flats.

These victims met Goh and signed rental agreements.

He deceived them into believing that he had secured the units for rental, when he knew they had actually been rented out to other tenants.

Then Goh tricked them into handing over cash for various fees such as advance rental payments, security deposits, stamp fees and agents' fees.

When the victims eventually could not move in, Goh gave various excuses and promised to refund their money. But he never did and later could not be contacted.

He had paid back $1,500, the court heard.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Kenneth Chin argued that this was serial cheating case. He said it did not only involve monetary losses to the victims but also caused them unnecessary stress and anxiety.

District Judge Shawn Ho allowed Goh to defer sentence until June 12. He noted that the total loss was almost $100,000 in this case, and also considered the week the father of two had spent in remand.

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