Ex-property agent jailed for two years for running rental scam and committing theft

A property agent not only cheated seven foreigners of a total of $32,400 in a rental scam, he also stole a necklace and a watch from his Chinese national girlfriend. Jim Tan Kuan Hui, 41, now unemployed, pleaded guilty on Thursday in a district court to theft and cheating and was jailed for two years.

In December 2010 and February 2011, he was working for the Asia Group property firm. Jim Tan hatched a plan with Jeffrey Tan Chwee Guan, 38, and another man named only as Ah Lai, to "rent" out Jeffrey Tan's housing board flat in Jurong East. The two Tans would collect deposits and advance rental fees from people who are interested and then cook up excuses on why the flat was unavailable to them.

In one case in December 2010, Mr Jameel Adnan Ahmed, a 34-year-old Pakistani, agreed to rent the Jurong East flat for $1,000 a month. He then handed over a total of $7,000 as agent's commission and advance rental. Some weeks later, Jim Tan told Mr Ahmed that he could not move in as he claimed that the flat had been vandalised with paint and the police had sealed it for investigations.

When Mr Ahmed visited the unit, he found this was not the case and it was occupied by other tenants. His demands for a refund went unheeded and he went to the police. Jim Tan received $250 from this transaction with the rest going to Jeffrey Tan and Ah Lai.

Then in August last year (13), Jim Tan stole his girlfriend's gold necklace and Omega watch worth a total of $4,500 while she was asleep in the house they shared in Thomson. Tan, who did not have a lawyer, told the court that he had merely "borrowed" the items as he was short of cash. He said he had pawned the items and intented to return them.

For theft, he could have been jailed for up to seven years and fined. The maximum penalty for cheating is a 10-year jail term and a $10,000 fine.

Both Jeffrey Tan and Ah Lai are at large.