Serial offender gets 38 months for cheating

SINGAPORE - A serial scammer was jailed for three years and two months on Tuesday for cheating a dozen people through investment, rental and employment scams.

Chua Ting Zhen, 27, who faced 44 charges, pleaded guilty to 15 counts of cheating.

The total amount involved was $61,939. Restitution of only $1,000 was made.

Chua had re-offended soon after her release from prison in January 2013.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tow Chew Chi said this showed she had not learnt her lesson. The amount involved in the latest set of offences was almost double that of 2012.

"The accused is a persistent, habitual and serial offender," he said.

Mr Tow said between June 2013 and September last year, Chua cooked up various scams which she used on different victims.

The money she got her hands on was used to pay off her debts.

One of her victims, Mr Lim Jun Rao, 35, whom she befriended on a website called Zoosk, was deceived into believing that she had planned an overseas trip to New York for both of them.

Chua had claimed her cousin was an air stewardess who could get cheaper air tickets, that she had a friend who could show them around in New York, and that they could stay in a relative's house to save money.

She duped him into transferring $4,298 to her bank account to pay for a return business air ticket to New York, and lodging expenses.

In another case, she scammed Mr Goh Boon Yong, 29, into giving her $4,000 for an investment plan.

Chua, who was unrepresented, said in mitigation that it was her boyfriend who taught her how to cheat people. She claimed that she did not get a cent out of the scams and pleaded to the court to give her a chance to turn over a new leaf.

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