SINGAPORE - Two Chinese nationals who were part of a group of five who cheated two elderly folk of their life savings, amounting to nearly $440,000, were jailed on Thursday.
Li Lianying, 50, was given four years and 10 months on two charges, while Li Peng, 45, was jailed for three years and five months on one count.
They had admitted to scheming with Li Cai Hong, 45, Li Lian Ying, 40, and Li Tu Wang, 43, to deceiving Madam Goh Kah Keow, 72, of cash and jewellery totalling $401,450 at Roxy Square in East Coast Road on Nov 20 last year.
They had also cheated Madam Chua Peck Har, 66, of cash and jewellery totalling $37,550 at People's Park Complex on Nov 19.
The court heard that shortly after their arrival last November, the five took a bus to East Coast Road where they saw Madam Goh waiting for a bus outside Roxy Square.
While the two men- Li Peng and Li Tu Wang - separated from the group and stayed at a distance, Li Lianying approached Madam Goh and told her a sob story that her daughter had been warded in a Taiwan hospital with an incurable disease which was a lie.
She asked the victim if she knew of a particular medium living nearby who could help her daughter.
At this juncture, Li Cai Hong came and listened in to the conversation. She then claimed that she knew the medium and offered to take both of them to him.
The victim decided to follow them to meet the medium. When Li Lian Ying appeared, Li Cai Hong told the victim that this 40-year-old woman was the medium's granddaughter. The two women accompanying the victim pleaded with Li Lian Ying for help.
Li Lian Ying told them to wait while she went to get advice from the medium. She returned and told Madam Goh that the medium said that the victim was possessed by spirits, which a "high priest'' to remove.
Madam Goh asked Li Lian Ying if the medium could help her.
She was duped into handing over all her personal savings and jewellery.
The court heard that she went home and got her jewellery, cash and bank books and withdrew money from banks in East Coast.
She placed all of this totalling $401,450 in a green bag given by Li Lian Ying. She was asked to close her eyes while a short prayer was being said. At this time, the green bag was swapped.
Madam Goh was given a replacement bag and told to return to the bus stop with the bag three days later. She was warned not to open it until then or the prayers would be rendered void and the vicious spirits would return to haunt her.
She realised she had been scammed when she returned to the bus stop three days later and no one came to meet her.
Li Lianying and Li Peng were arrested at Changi Airport they returned here with their alleged accomplices on March 9. The others managed to take a flight back.
Both could have been jailed for up to 10 years and fined on each charge of cheating.