A former associate division director of HSR International Realtors was on Monday jailed for six months. Sng Chin Lee, 43, pleaded guilty to swindling a tenant of $5,000, forging tenancy documents and using fake stamp certificates.
A district court heard that since March 2010, he was handling the rental of a River Valley house. The tenant, a 39-year-old Singaporean, renewed the lease in March 2011. When she wanted to move out in June that year, he lied to her that the landlord wanted $5,000 to allow breaking the lease.
He pocketed the money and forged the landlord's signature on a letter agreeing to the early termination of the rental agreement. Then, on his own, he rented the premises to a firm wanting to house about 30 workers for $2,800 a month. Sng handed only $2,500 of this to the landlord.
Investigations by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) also uncovered that Sng had handed over fake stamp certificates to the landlord and tenants of four rental properties in August and September 2011, so as to pocket the $865 paid as stamp duty.
Defence counsel Barry Delaney said that his client had been in desperate financial straits as Sng's wife, a childcare teacher, had to undergo an operation. The court also heard that Sng, a father of three children, had a distinguished career as an army sergeant till 2006.
In reply, Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Ngoh called Sng's offences a rental scam, deserving of a stiff sentence. However, District Judge Eddy Tham pointed out that such scams involved renting premises, that are usually occupied, to several people in order to cheat them.