Serial cheat 'paid' for religious artwork, baby strollers and laptops with dud cheques

SINGAPORE - From religious artwork to baby strollers, laptops and even the lease for an apartment in Tanjong Katong, a serial cheat paid his victims for a wide variety of items using cheques his bank accounts did not have the funds to honour.

Jobless Mohamed Amir Mohamed Tafel, 31, is believed to have sold off some of the goods, worth thousands, and pocketed the proceeds.

On Wednesday, he was sentenced to 40 months in prison after pleading guilty to 14 charges against him. Besides cheating with the dud cheques and unrelated drug and criminal breach of trust offences, these also included that for unlawful possession of a knuckle duster, which resulted in six strokes of the cane. Some 28 other assorted charges, also arising from crimes he committed between Feb 2012 and March this year, were taken into consideration.

A district court heard that the total value of losses involved in Mohamed Amir's crimes amounted to $12,417.20, most of which has not been recovered.

The former bartender's victims in the dud cheque offences in particular included a merchant at the Singapore Expo, an online childcare product business and IT firms. On one occasion, he conned a homeowner into giving him a one-year lease for an apartment at the Suites @ Katong condominium after purportedly paying $5,200 in deposit and rent.

Mohamed Amir, who is married with an 18-month-old son, had a slew of previous unrelated convictions dating back to 2003. He has not made any restitution to his victims.

For each count of cheating them into handing their property to him, he could have been jailed up to ten years and fined.